Sartre and Fanon: On Negritude and Political Participation

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Abstract:

In the first part of this essay, in order to grasp the complex and ambivalent relation of Fanon with negritude, I will recover the context from which emerged the ideology of negritude by focusing on the views of LĂ©opold Senghor and the ways in which these views determined Sartre's interpretation of the movement. I will also examine Sartre's Black Orpheus and the influence it had on Fanon, especially on his Black Skin, White Masks. In the second part, I will adumbrate Fanon's critique of the advocates of negritude, whom he refers to as 'men of culture', who fell back on archaic cultural practices far removed from the political realities of their colonized societies. In the third section, I will turn to Memmi's critique of Fanon with a view to establishing two points: first, Memmi misreads Fanon's rejection of negritude as a failure on the part of Fanon to 'return to self'; second, far from being an oppositional post-modern figure whose work is rife with contradiction, I will argue that the political project of Fanon is consistently Sartrean, despite his disagreement with Sartre on some issues.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/135715505780282515

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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