Schizophrenic Island, fifty years after Fanon: Martinique, the pent-up 'paradise'
Abstract:Although Frantz Fanon did not employ the term as such, the contemporary paradigm of 'social suffering' captures much of the angst that Fanon diagnosed in his treatments of fellow Martinicans as individuals and of Martinique as a society. Ambivalent relationships based on race (French whites vis-à-vis islanders 'of colour') and law (assimilationist statehood versus regional autonomy) continue to problematize Martinican society and polity. This is despite significant material gains (now in question as a result of looming austerity in the French economy) made in the half-century since Fanon's original diagnoses in Black Skin, White Masks (1952). Pierre Bourdieu's 'everyday life' methodology is joined to psychological analyses of Martinican behaviour to reveal schizophrenic tendencies in the mind and body politic. An overarching frame is the contrast between an externally sold image of island 'paradise' with a political and psychological reality fraught with frustration, anxiety, stress and contradiction. Understanding of French West Indian politics, culture and society is heightened by reference to the specialized literature of medical anthropology, psychiatric health and public health in postcolonial societies.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Northeastern University
Publication date: 2012-08-13
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