Here is a brief excerpt in French from a program aired on RFO, the television station of the French Antilles, on Frantz Fanon’s life and work.
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And here is another interesting video about Fanon’s intellectual and political impact, this one in English:
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14 thoughts on “Frantz Fanon”
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In “Algeria Unveiled,” I was fascinated by Fanon’s analysis of the mental state of an Algerian woman as she enters into the European city: “Each time she enters into the European city, the Algerian woman must achieve a victory over herself, over her childish fears. She must reconsider the image of the occupier lodged somewhere in her mind and in her body, remodel it, initiate the essential work of eroding it, make it inessential, remove something of the shame that is attached to it, devalidate it” (52). These details were very powerful to me as they speak to some of the less blatant and more internal forms of resistance. I found his last sentence–about the Algerian woman redefining the image of the occupier as she enters into the European space–to be eerily similar to the thought process that some victims of sexual assault have in an attempt to self-preserve and/or overcome the trauma of an incredibly degrading experience.
La croyance de Fanon- décrit dans le deuxième clip de Youtube- que la seule façon de se libérer de la colonisation était à travers la violence, y compris le terrorisme, est extrêmement intéressante. Je ne savais pas que ses pensées étaient dans un sens l’exact opposé de celles d’Albert Camus, qui était contre la violence et particulièrement le terrorisme en Algérie. Peut-être qu’on peut analyser ce contraste plus quand on discute Camus et L’étranger en cours.
« Ces choses, je vais les dire, non les crier. » (Fanon 5)
Est-ce que ceci est vrai ? Est-ce que Fanon ne cri pas du tout ?
Malgré son usage du langage scientifique, Fanon enfonçait beaucoup d’émotion dans son incorporation de la poésie et ses méthodes de parler à son audience. Mais qui est son audience ? Ironiquement, Fanon utilisait « le français français » à décrire les effets de colonialisme – surtout sur les Noires, à déplorer la supériorité fausse des Blancs, à renforcer son identité, et à appeler « l’autrui » en existence. Fanon soutenait que la position des Noires dans la société est une question de l’existence, pas de supériorité ou infériorité.
Alors, est-ce qu’il parlait à l’autrui, les appelant aux armes pour trouver leurs voix ? Ou est-ce qu’il parle aux gens blancs et instruits, démontrant son égalité, son identité, et son voix. On doit « cri » un peu, utilise l’émotion, pour communiquer la profondeur de la situation – n’est pas ?
There are two aspects of Fanon’s book that seem somewhat contradictory or confusing. The first concerns the argument of language. In some manner, Fanon believes that merely by speaking a language, one succumbs to the collective consciousness of that culture. My particular question concerns the significance of publishing his book in French when compared to the insertion of French in a colony. Is there truly a great difference between these two?
Secondly, based on his experience in the French army, and his ties to the FLN after the publication of this book, it seems unusual that the book itself is written in such an intellectual manner–without the violence that consumed most of Fanon’s life. Is there a particular reason why this book does not highlight Fanon’s aggressive strategies?
I agree that Fanon’s suggestion and involvement in such violence is alarming, especially considering his stances against the persecution, subjugation, or ailenation of blacks. My biggest sticking point with both the book and what I read of Fanon’s background was his seeming inability to see beyond just the struggle of Blacks. He does repeatedly reference the struggle of Jews during the period of the Second World War, but his writing lacks empathy. I was struck by how far he carried his revolutionary and anti-establishment ideals without the integration of the Black struggle with the greater struggle of minorities in general. I too have trouble with many of his actions and beliefs in that they seem to lend themselves towards creating a black hierarchical society at the expense of the white, instead of removing hierarchy altogether.
In watching the Youtube video (in English), I was shocked to find that Fanon’s political ideology was one of violence. “Peau noir, masques blanc” has a rather intellectual tone, and although I realized that Fanon had been involved in military fighting both for the French and in the Algerian Revolution, I was surprised to learn that he believed, “The only way for individuals to free themselves from this [Western control] was through violence, including terrorism.” Do you think that Fanon’s ideology set a precedent for future acts of terrorism?
On a different note, I found online that Fanon was actually married to a white Frenchwoman, Marie-Joséphine (Josie) Dublé. (Here is a good Fanon biography: http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Fanon.html.) At the beginning of chapter 3 (“L’homme de couleur et la Blanche”), Fanon states, “De la partie la plus noire de mon âme, à travers la zone hachure me monte ce désir d’être tout à coup blanc. Je ne veux pas être reconnu comme Noir, mais comme Blanc… En m’aimant, elle me prouve que je suis digne d’un amour blanc. On m’aime comme un Blanc. Je suis un Blanc” (51). Then, later, in a citation from another source, he explains “La plupart d’entre eux (hommes de couleur)…y font moins des marriages d’inclination que des marriages où la satisfaction de dominer l’Européenne est pimentée d’un certain goût d’orgueilleuse revanche” (56). Is this what Fanon was seeking in his marriage to a white woman? Though in general, Fanon seems to be advocating for blacks to break free from a white-dominated society, his own marriage seems to undermine this point. What do you all think?
Wow. These are some very interesting comments on language in Frantz Fanon. What is more important is that Fanon also has an interesting view not only on language, but also on the pedagogy of language in the world. I would like to share with you an experience that I have written about on my own ethnographic experiences teaching english in Guadeloupe:
“Le Jeune Guadeloupean en 2006: My students rarely, if ever, addressed me in Creole, but during recess it resounded on the playground. At times, I would explain the structural similarities between English and Creole. I wanted to impress upon them that their ability to speak both Creole and French gave them a ‘superpower’ to learning English. Teachers, often, will scold students in Creole since it can be more effective. At times of chaos, I would yell at them in Creole. It has a different feeling. It is more percussive than French. My Creole amused them since they don’t usually hear foreigners speak it often. So, they knew very well that I was fairly Creole friendly. However, if students use it during class, it can be sometimes be problematic. One day I asked a class, “What is a tree?” A very hyperactive student with some behavioral problems leaped up correctly responding, “pyébwa”, literally ‘foot wood’ in Creole. He was right. I am not sure if I perceived that his response was in Creole simply because I understood. Language is language. The function: to communicate. However, being well aware of his linguistic lapse, his classmates immediately erupted with laughter. The teacher scolded him, ironically in Creole.
I paused: these are the difficulties of a diglossie as explained in the Creole instruction books. I had to reflect. Not being from Guadeloupe, I did not have a knee jerk reaction to the perceived ‘problem’. I know not to allow students not to ridicule other students in class.
I paused, again: my pride in my bourgeoning theoretical understanding of the sociolinguistic intricacies of the clashing of Creole and French was at stake. I know how this type of situation is damaging to a child. I also understood that I would be gone in less than 3 months. I found my response.
I restarted: I commended the student for his correct answer; I explained to the class that my job was teaching English; a response in Creole does not matter to me; Chinese would be fine if I understood it. I stopped there and moved on. I did not want to break protocol, but that was the best I could do to salvage the child’s confidence. I don’t know if I re-inforced any hegemonic order, but I think it was the best way at the time to diffuse the situation.”
I also found the discussion of French and Creole languages in Fanon’s book fascinating. In my linguistics class last term we discussed the evolution of pidgin and creole languages briefly. I was struck immediately by the linguistic terms used to discuss creole languages: the native languages are known as the “substrates”, while the language that is imposed on or integrated into the native languages is called the “superstrate.” In the instance of Haitian Creole, the substrates would be various African languages while the superstrate would be French. It is easy to see, then, how notions of superiority can be linked to certain languages- in this case, French. The way that creoles are discussed in linguistics no doubt has an effect on people’s attitudes towards the “superstrate”, “substrate”, and creole languages. Frantz Fanon displays the intellectual hierarchy among French and Martiniquan Creole speakers very well in the first chapter of his book.
I also thought his analysis of the importance of language was interesting. In particular, I liked hIs commentary on the connotation of speaking French and Creole. In addition, I alos liked hIs analysis on how a psychological shift corresponds to a language shift. It was interesting to see how a simple language difference can so alienate an entire nation’s populace.
This comment is more related to the reading from Fanon’s book, “Black Skin, White Masks” but I wanted to mention that I found his argument about language to be compelling. What I gathered from his first chapter was that language is typically thought of as a unifying mechanism, a language is developed so that everyone can communicate on the same level. However, he is pointing out that language was used as a way to classify people and create prejudice. He talks about how Creole was thought of as a lesser language, one that only lower class people speak. In order to be considered an upper class citizens, or on par with whites, one had to speak a Frenchman’s French. I thought this point was interesting because it implies a certain sense of humiliation about speaking a particular language, and I never associated humiliation with language.
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