Violences in Fanon

September 2, 2009 by hoyuying · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

I found Fanon’s On Violence particularly striking and in fact, disturbing. Fanon writes of the colonized and colonists as two polarised and homogenous groups or masses, and expounds on the violence that both groups enact. When I was reading his descriptions on the actions of the white colonisers on the native colonised, a few points struck me. Firstly, that Fanon has no problem with discussing colonialism and decolonisation in terms of a clear-cut binary of wary colonizer and envious colonised, and secondly, that in his own discussion of the violence done upon the colonised by the colonizers, Fanon himself also enacts a sort of violence upon them.

Frankly, I was quite disturbed by the way Fanon reduced and simplified the experience(s) of colonialism and decolonisation in to clear cut black and white binaries. The wary ‘colonist’ and the envious ‘colonized, both strictly at odds with one another. Fanon seems to ignore that the experience of colonialism was different in each country—yes, it can be argued that being colonised was at the root an act of violence, and the natives were, in all cases, ‘invaded’ by the white men. Yet, Fanon dismisses the different ways people—both colonialists and colonised—thought about colonialism and being colonised, and the nuances in the colonial experience and process. Granted, Fanon was writing from his own perspective and experiences, but I feel that his simplification of the issue not only makes a meaningful discussion of colonialism difficult, but is also in itself an act of violence on the colonised, and also the colonisers.

Fanon’s description of the colonized really disturbed me, especially the way he ‘condensed’ the various individuals who were colonised into a single figure—“the colonized subject”, a single, unremarkable “him”. This struck me most as the ‘violence’ in the text, not the actions of the colonizers.

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