Coming Up

On Thursday.

I’ll post a draft of my paper as soon as I have something that feels substantive. I’ll be talking about love in Black Skin, White Masks, and also touching on Wretched of the Earth.

Here’s the abstract:

Love in Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks

Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions.—Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Frantz Fanon is not someone we turn to for advice on love. Far from it. His biographer, David Macey, claims that if there’s a genuine Fanonian emotion it’s “anger.” And while we can certainly talk about the range of emotions in Fanon, from rage to ecstasy, and from despair to hope, love seems to be a stretch. For love, we turn to Barry White and Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross. Never Fanon. Indeed, while Fanon claims to take love seriously in Black Skin, White Masks, love understood as psychic and bodily abandon, by the end of Black Skin, Fanon has turned to Hegelian recognition and a deep-rooted bodily skepticism, as noted in his famous closing “prayer”: “Oh my body, make me always a man who questions.” Against the possibilities of love, Fanon embraces the inevitability of skepticism. What has happened to love? Why does it appear in Black Skin only to disappear? And what might be useful in thinking about Fanon and love? More precisely, what might black queer studies have to say about love in Fanon?

Because Fanon is foundational to black studies, black diaspora studies, and postcolonial studies, he functions as an inevitable gateway for scholars working in transnational black queer studies. However, Black Skin, White Masks, his major contribution to black ontology and epistemology, has posed a major stumbling block for black queers, as outlined by Kobena Mercer, Fanon’s most prominent black queer critic. This presentation moves away from the problem of Fanon’s homophobia to develop other strategies through which black queer studies can engage Fanon. It argues that love is a crucial, understudied element of Fanon’s thinking and an essential component of his vision for an anti-racist, anti-colonial world.