FANON'S DIALECTIC OF EXPERIENCE

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Harvard University Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 276 pages
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With the flowering of postcolonialism, we return to Frantz Fanon, a leading theorist of the struggle against colonialism. In this thorough reinterpretation of Fanon's texts, Ato Sekyi-Otu ensures that we return to him fully aware of the unsuspected formal complexity and substantive richness of his work. A Caribbean psychiatrist trained in France after World War II and an eloquent observer of the effects of French colonialism on its subjects from Algeria to Indochina, Fanon was a controversial figure--advocating national liberation and resistance to colonial power in his bestsellers, Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth.

But the controversies attending his life--and death, which some ascribed to the CIA--are small in comparison to those surrounding his work. Where admirers and detractors alike have seen his ideas as an incoherent mixture of Existentialism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis, Sekyi-Otu restores order to Fanon's oeuvre by reading it as one dramatic dialectical narrative. Fanon's Dialectic of Experience invites us to see Fanon as a dramatist enacting a movement of experience--the drama of social agents in the colonial context and its aftermath--in a manner idiosyncratically patterned on the narrative structure of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. By recognizing the centrality of experience to Fanon's work, Sekyi-Otu allows us to comprehend this much misunderstood figure within the tradition of political philosophy from Aristotle to Arendt.



Reviews of this book:
"The goal of this often brilliant and always engaging book is to 'read Fanon's texts as though they formed one dramatic dialectical narrative'; the principal subject of this dramatic narrative, according to Sekyi-Otu, is 'political experience'. It is his deployment of a dialectical analysis of Fanon's 'dramatic personae' that permits Sekyi-Otu's fresh and insightful readings to take place." DD--Anthony C. Alessandrini, Minnesota Review

"Ato Sekyi-Otu departs from the postmodernist paradigm and ushers in an alternative hermeneutic that primarily considers Fanon's texts as forming 'one dramatic dialectical narrative,' that is a narrative whose complexity is correlative of the intricate configurations of African social experience during the post-independent era...[His] book is an invaluable contribution that offers broader scope for a new appreciation of Fanon's political thinking."
DD--Marc Mve Bekale, Revue AFRAM Review [UK]

"[I]mportant...The author succeeds in...revealing the complexity and nuanced character of Fanon's thought." DD--Choice

"Those who would dismiss or exult Fanon as the high priest of revolutionary violence will be chastened by this patient and completely convincing exposition of his work. Sekyi-Otu produces a reflexive, 'Gramscian' Fanon who, working as a 'detective of the politics of truth,' has produced insights that need to be taken over into the core of democratic political thought." DD--Paul Gilroy, University of London

  

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Contents

REREADING FANON
10
IMMEDIATE KNOWLEDGE
47
BEWILDERING ENLIGHTENMENT
101
POLITICAL JUDGMENT
157
The Record and the Vision
236
Notes
243
Index
269
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Ato Sekyi-Otu is Associate Professor in the Division of Social Science and the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought at York University, Ontario.

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