Volume 27, Issue 1/2, Fall 2021
Frantz Fanon and the Creolization of Hegel
Colonialism, the Interdiction of Dialectics and Emancipation in Debate
In this article, I discuss Frantz Fanon’s position regarding Hegelian dialectics. Dialektik von Herr und Knecht (Master-Servant/Servitude Dialectic) is one of the most important analytical keys of Phänomenologie des Geistes (The Phenomenology of Spirit), published by G.W.F. Hegel in Jena in 1807. However, in his Peau Noire, Masque Blancs (Black Skins, White Masks), written when he was 25 years old and published in 1952, Fanon argues that under the colonial yoke, reciprocity, a fundamental characteristic of dialectics, is not effective. The question I seek to answer in this study is: does the argument presented by the author represent a rupture, reaffirmation or transfiguration of the Hegelian dialectic? Faced with this challenge, I place some excerpts from Phenomenology, and from Black Skins, White Masks, as well as other later writings by Fanon, in dialogue, to then problematize the closeness, tensions and ruptures between both. The argument I present here will revolve around Fanon’s defense of the existence of a transfigured (calibanized) appropriation of the dialectic, based on three interdependent elements: 1. Fanon shares the Hegelian assumption that identity is produced in the reciprocal relationship with its otherness. 2. Colonial estrangement interdicts this reciprocity by promoting a decay of political domination to the level of objectifying and bestialized denial; 3. Colonial negation is not ontological, but historical and, therefore, can be overcome by a practical-sensitive negation, carried out by the colonized themselves. Throughout this paper, I discuss some implications of the argument defended here in the context of the specialized literature on the thinking of both authors.