Queering Fanon: Colonialism, Gender, and Sexuality
The writings of Martiniquean-born psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon have been central to many treatments of the problem of decolonization, whether approached through anti-colonial liberation, or through his related analysis of psychological racialization. Fanon’s formation in psychoanalysis, his political critique of mental illness and his approach to the practice of psychiatry—as well as his creative interpellation of Freudian ideas about culture developed through his theorization of the psychic dimensions of colonialism—have won Fanon pride of place in the postcolonial canon, and for good reason. Yet, the sexual and gender politics of his critical commentary have always been contentious. Is Fanon’s thought, as some critics claim, heteronormative? Does it caricature and essentialize women? How does sexuality figure, if at all, in Fanon’s matrix of colonial oppression? How can we understand Fanon’s complicated relation to gender and sexuality—and why, despite its shortcomings, is his work nevertheless a touchstone for thinking about topics like racialized desire, internalized racism, and homophobia, and the erotic or interpersonal manifestations of colonial power dynamics? What would it mean to queer Fanon? In this course, we will explore how LGBTQ+ writers, artists, and activists have critiqued and responded to Fanon’s ideas, including the troublesome questions raised by symptomatic readings of sexual themes within Fanon’s key texts. Readings will include excerpts from Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Wretched of the Earth, as well as critical essays, commentary, and biography by Teresa de Lauretis, David Macey, Kobena Mercer, Amber Jamilla Musser, Marita Vyrgioti, Ayo A. Coly, and more.
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
June 05 — June 26, 2023