Frantz Fanon: Anticolonialism and Revolution

Instructor: Anjuli Raza Kolb
A Public Space
323 Dean Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

“Europe is literally a creation of the Third World,” Frantz Fanon declares in his indelible book The Wretched of the Earth, “the wealth which smothers her is that which was stolen from the underdeveloped peoples. The ports of Holland, the docks of Bordeaux and Liverpool specialized in the Negro slave trade, and owe their renown to millions of deported slaves. So when we hear the head of a European state declare with his hand on his heart that he must come to the aid of the poor underdeveloped peoples, we do not tremble with gratitude.” Fanon’s words, written in 1961, aim an unflinching look at the fallacies and paradoxes of liberalism, humanism, colonialism, and what he calls the “infinite science” of the colonizer. But many would argue that these words are equally illuminating in our own neo-imperial moment in which occupations, militarized police forces, and violations of “failed states’” sovereignty are daily occurrences. If Fanon set a course for black revolutionary and anticolonial action in the last century, what can his thought offer us now?

This course will serve as an intensive introduction to Fanon’s philosophical and political writings, which continue to stand as some of the most influential and rousing works of the twentieth century. Born in Martinique and trained in France as a psychiatrist, Fanon spent the last decade of his life in Algeria, where he joined the struggle for national liberation. Marked by a layered history of anti-colonial struggle in the Caribbean, Europe, and North Africa, as much as by a commitment to the world-wide projects of decolonization and revolution, Fanon’s writing was has been taken up by protest movements around the world, from South Africa to Sri Lanka, from the Black Panthers to queer theory. In this intensive course, we will read Fanon’s two major works, Black Skin, White Masks, and The Wretched of the Earth, as well as the essays on Algeria collected in A Dying Colonialism, and selections from Toward the African Revolution. We will also watch Isaac Julien’s Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask and Göran Olsson’s documentary Concerning Violence, on the legacy of Fanon’s thought.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 7-10pm
June 11 — June 25, 2015
3 weeks

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