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Reviewed by:
  • Alienation and Freedom ed. by Frantz Fanon
  • Martin Munro
Frantz Fanon, Alienation and Freedom. Edited by Jean Khalfa and Robert J. C. Young. Translated by Steven Corcoran London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. 816 pp., ill.

This collection is the English translation of a French volume published in 2015. The relative speed with which the translation has appeared gives some sense of the urgency and relevance of its contents. In a time of renewed racial antagonisms and neo-colonial interventions globally, Frantz Fanon's existing published work had already regained some of its status as an unavoidable point of reference for discussions of race and colonialism and their psychological effects. The publication of his voluminous unpublished works—around half his entire œuvre—promises to reinforce that status and further emphasize the piercingly prescient quality of the work as a whole. Previously inaccessible or considered lost, the writings here range from plays to psychiatric essays and political pieces. The editors have done exemplary work in locating the various pieces, finding, for example, scientific articles, Fanon's 1951 dissertation in psychiatry, editorials from hospital newspapers, and other manuscripts and fragments that together show how his psychiatric thought influenced his political thinking, and vice versa. Fanon's conviction that psychiatric questions needed to be considered in relation to the body and its freedom to move, and to social and spatial relations, loses none of its pertinence and potential when applied to contemporary situations. Theatre specialists will be able to apply these ideas to the two plays, and to the broader field of performance studies, in which Fanon is already an important theoretical reference. His plays bear the imprint of Aimé Césaire's language, and the theatre of Paul Claudel and Jean-Paul Sartre, the latter being a particularly strong influence on Fanon's thought. The political writings reveal a worldly thinker, rooted in the Algerian struggle but with his eye cast critically on Europe and its neo-colonial impulses. He is no less critical of new African elites and their ties to the former colonial powers. He turns back to the Caribbean only rarely, notably in an essay on the Federation of the West Indies entitled, hopefully, 'In the Caribbean, Birth of a Nation?' It is striking that his native Martinique merits only a cursory, dismissive mention: 'They trusted the "France of the Liberation" to fight against the political-economic power of the "sugar plantocracy"' (p. 588), he writes, distancing himself from the fate of his island. The book does not so much introduce a new Fanon, as shine a broader, fuller light on the elements that were always there in his published works: the acute intelligence, the unerring critique of colonialism, and his concern for its psychological effects. Steven Corcoran provides exemplary translations. For someone who lived only thirty-six years, Fanon has already had a remarkable intellectual afterlife. This hugely important collection will ensure that his legacy will endure, proliferate, and be an essential point of reference for any reader interested in the complex, profound, ongoing effects of colonialism and racism.

Martin Munro
Florida State University
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
p. 329
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-17
Open Access
No
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