Lecture Title: Madness and Colonialism in Frantz Fanon’s thought.
Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) is principally known as a theoretician of race relations and decolonization, in particular in the two main books he published during his lifetime: Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). What is less known is that he was in parallel a dramatist, a pioneering psychiatrist and an early and recognized theoretician of ethnopsychiatry. With the publication by Jean Khalfa and Robert JC Young of Alienation and Freedom, 800 p of unpublished or presumed lost texts by Frantz Fanon became available (La Découverte, 2015 and 2017, Bloomsbury 2018 and 2020).
These works reveal an astonishing dramatist, an original psychiatrist, and above all the significance of these dimensions of his thought for the understanding of his political texts. This talk will look at these links from two perspectives 1) the nature of the decolonization process when read through Fanon’s theatre and his texts on psychiatric internment, violence, and his pioneering model of social therapy and 2) Fanon’s analysis of “identity” first as a pathology and then as a mystification when presented as a cultural foundation for newly decolonized states, in relation to his systematic questioning of any “constitution” of the self in his psychiatric and ethnopsychiatric theories and practice.
Professor Jean Khalfa is Trinity Professor of French Studies at Trinity College, Cambridge.