Remembering Frantz Fanon

“What can we say, 50 years after his untimely death, about Fanon’s place in today’s transcultural world?”

Obituaries / Commentary & Analysis

Hicham Yezza, “Frantz Fanon: Fifty Years On”, Ceasefire

Stef Terblanche, “Fanon, Guevara, Mandela and Malema”, Black Business Quarterly

Ruth Jung, “Im Beziehungsgeflecht zwischen Unterdrücker und Unterdrücktem: Vor 50 Jahren starb der Schriftsteller und Psychiater Frantz Fanon”, Deutschlandfunk

Alice Cherki, “L’actualité de Frantz Fanon”

Pambazuka News 561: Special issue: 50 years on: Frantz Fanon lives

Richard Pithouse, “Frantz Fanon 50 years on”
“While the political spring in North Africa and the Middle East, and earlier stirrings in Latin America, have certainly called some of the global quiescence of the last 30 years into question, we are far from the Africa in motion from within which Fanon wrote. It seems a long time since the likes of Fanon and Patrice Lumumba thought it perfectly reasonable to see themselves as part of a broad struggle to call a new Africa into being.”

Ama Biney, “Fanon’s enduring relevance”
“ If Fanon were alive today, his message would remain that it is imperative the wretched of the earth, particularly in Africa, confront the fact that class oppression in Africa comes from fellow Africans with black skins who comprise a conceited oligarchy which takes seriously its role as the intermediary of the international conglomerates plundering the continent. … The intellectual debt of Fanon is a rich one and he continues to have an enduring relevance to Africans in the 21st century. How human beings forge freedom against all forms of tyranny; how we struggle to be human in a dehumanising society and world are the challenges for this generation.”

Mireille Fanon Mendès-France, “Frantz Fanon and the current multiple crises”
“In Africa, in Europe, Asia, Middle East and America, Fanon appears more current than ever. He makes sense to everyone who fights for freedom and human rights, because emancipation is always the first objective of a generation reaching political maturity. … Real liberation is that which pursues processes engaged in by independence struggles, which can only be envisioned in the context of institutions which are genuinely democratic, strong and representative. Democratic freedoms are the only way for these countries to escape the impasse between domination and misery.”

David Austin, “The ghost of Frantz Fanon”
“Part of the problem lies in the fact that Fanon is generally read too literally when, as York University professor Atu Sekyi-Otu and others have argued, he should be read, at least in part, in a literary way. Like the writing of his fellow Martinicans Édouard Glissant, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Rafaël Confiant – and it is often forgotten that Fanon was a child of the Caribbean – Fanon’s vivid and dramatic prose was influenced by the literary style of the Martinican poet and statesman Aimé Césaire. … At times, Fanon appears to be making a statement, when in actual fact he is either describing a situation as it exists, or making a theatrical claim, only to recant it in another section, as if he was writing scenes in a play. … Much of the hullabaloo stems from passages like the following: ‘At the level of individuals, violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from despair and inaction.’ At a cursory reading, the passage appears to be a promotion of violence as cathartic release. But at a closer read, Fanon’s language is very specific. The words ‘At the level of individuals’ are crucial. Fanon is sharing his first-hand observations as a clinical psychiatrist. He was treating Algerian patients who were engaged in a life and death struggle against French settlers who had killed, brutalised, and maimed Algerian women and men. For some of them, violence was literally a cathartic act which, in absence of an impartial judiciary, police force, or any other official institutions willing to defend the rights of Algerians – sadly and traumatically – became their sole source of release. … Fanon did not prescribe violence. He diagnosed it and sought to explain it. He cringed at wanton acts of violence and, despite his medical training, is said to have had a strong aversion to the sight of blood. And yet he could not ignore Algeria’s reality, or that of any other society where the coloniser used violence to subvert and repress the life chances of those they colonised. It is puzzling how such a common feature of colonial society has been so controversial.”

Cameron Duodu, “Frantz Fanon: Prophet of African liberation”
“The formidable intellect Fanon possessed and which made him such a target for French assassination was applied, in 1958, to winning over the Independent African States so that they could use their membership of the Afro-Asian bloc – a group that had been gaining strength since its formation at the Bandung (Indonesia) conference in 1955 – to press Algeria’s case for independence, at the United Nations and other international forums.”

Chambi Chachage, “Fanon and ‘The Fact of Blackness’”
“’The Fact of Blackness’ is still relevant today. It is relevant simply because Du Bois’ problem of colour line has not yet disappeared. Fanon’s experiences as a black man as analysed in ‘The Fact of Blackness’ have proved to be influential among black intellectuals in the world. His work has also drawn critics from both the white and the black world. It has also drawn an ambivalent relationship between black feminists and Fanon. For instance, hooks (1995), the black feminist and author of the famous ‘Postmodern Blackness’ admits that Fanon, more than any other thinker, has provided her with a model for insurgent black intellectual life that shaped her works. However, for a long time she abandoned Fanon’s ‘Black Skin, White Mask’ because of in its patriarchal nature it forgot about the black woman. One of the statements that disturbed hooks had to do with ontological resistance: ‘When Fanon declares that “the black person has no ontological resistance to the white gaze” he denies that the interaction between black males and black females might serve as just such a site’ (hooks, 1996, p. 84).”

Nigel C. Gibson, “Living Fanon: The rationality of revolt”
“At a seminar that I attended on Fanon with members of the shack dwellers organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo and the rural network in Pietmaritzburg, South Africa in May 2011, Ntombifuthi Shandu from the latter organisation wondered whether ‘we are led by people who were damaged by the struggle during apartheid’; that is by brutalised people who act brutally against the people. I found this comment particularly insightful. Concerned about brutality and the building up of another system of exploitation at the very moment when we destroy the old one, Fanon’s case notes in ‘The Wretched’ focussed on the traumas and stresses on the psyche that the struggle for liberation creates. Indeed, at one level the corruption and crude materialism can be understood as a reaction formation to the internalisation of this brutality often reduced to the standpoint of the gun. Shandu’s point was also concrete and specific, perhaps referring to the violence in the rural areas of Natal in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and was reminiscent of Fanon’s thesis that hatred, resentment and revenge, feelings often encouraged during the struggle to create action, cannot sustain liberation. In contrast, he insists that the work of the rebellion is to uncover its own thinking and reason in defiance of the brutality that is manifested by those ‘who tend to think that shades of meaning constitute danger’. Indeed he suggests that the logic of the militant’s voluntarism to get thing done, to take short cuts and to force action, is shockingly ‘inhuman and in the long run sterile’ (199). In contrast, Fanon argues that the search for truth in the locale is the responsibility of the conscious and coordinated praxis of the local community.”

Lewis Gordon, “Remembering Fanon: Setting afoot a new humanity”
“Across the globe, the response of many people to radicalised exploitation has been an assertion of democratic values under the rubric of ‘occupation.’ The term is appropriately Fanonian in the sense that it’s a logical consequence of privatisation gobbling up public spaces by which political life could be made manifest. If the streets, the squares, the parks, the countryside, the land, the air, the water, and so forth do not belong to the people, where, then, could there be public spaces through which to articulate political points of view? Would not, under such circumstances, politics itself become an illicit affair?”

Eunice N. Sahle, “Fanon, coloniality and emancipation”
“Fanon’s philosophical and political work matters because at the bare minimum, it challenges the preceding hegemonic discourse. For many reasons, Fanon remains the entry point in any project geared to the realisation of substantive emancipation, as opposed to elite-led projects.”


David Macey, “Interview with David Macey on Fanon, Foucault and Race”
“Speaking on TV news on 15 October, Jean-Paul Guerlain, sometime CEO of the Guerlain perfume makers, remarked quite baldly: ‘For once in my life, I began to work like a nigger, not that I know if niggers ever did really work like that …’ This stung Audrey Pulvar – a TV journalist born in Martinique, to say on air ‘Well, this nigger says piss off!’ She reportedly attributed the quotation to Aimé Césaire; it is in fact from Fanon, not that it matters much in the context. To her surprise, no politician thought fit to condemn Guerlain. Perhaps Pulvar was being surprisingly naïve: when a Minister can greet a journalist of Algerian origin by ‘jokingly’ asking if he has his identity papers on him … , we should all be reaching for our copies of Black Skin, White Masks.”

Key Fanon-Blogs




Transcolonial Fanon: Trajectories of a Revolutionary Politics
Columbia University

50 Years Later: Fanon’s Legacy and the Caribbean/ Bahamas
The College of the Bahamas Fanon Symposium 2011

ANNEE FRANTZ FANON: Frantz Fanon et les insurrections, en cours, des peuples de la rive sud de la Méditerranée


Is Fanon Finished?
American University of Paris

Also see

N. C. Gibson, “Relative Opacity: A New Translation of Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth – Mission Betrayed or Fulfilled?” (2007)
“Fanon asked Sartre to write a preface to The Wretched. When Fanon read it, he
reportedly said nothing. … Sartre had mentioned Sorel in his introduction, but only to dismiss him as ‘fascist chatter’. Nevertheless it became the mainstream opinion of Fanon promoted by serious scholars such as Hannah Arendt and Aristide Zolberg. While Arendt (1972, 1969) held that readers of Fanon were generally only familiar with the first chapter of The Wretched of the Earth, she charged that Fanon ‘glorified violence for violence’s sake’ and opined that ‘Fanon was greatly influenced by Sorel’. And Zolberg agreed, arguing that Fanon believed that the ‘natives’ needed a Sorelian ‘myth’. Without any evidence, either in the text or from those close to Fanon, the ‘myth’ of the connection to Sorel, even as it waned in the scholarly literature, remained in popular reviews. What underlie this perception was a preoccupation with and a reaction to Fanon’s conception of violence.”


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