The Misinterpellated Subject
”Tiens, un Nègre”: Fanon and the Refusal of Colonial Subjectivity
This chapter looks at the life and work of Frantz Fanon as the misinterpellated subject par excellence. I argue that in terms of his own life experience, Fanon’s famous scene where he was interpellated by a young white boy in the streets of Lyon with a call of “tiens, un Nègre!” (look, a Negro!) was a shock to his own self-understanding. Fanon shows that for the person of color, their path to interpellation is more tortuous because in addition to the false universal subject that is imposed on everyone, they suffer a second, equally false form of subjectivity that is embedded in their very body. Fanon takes this insight and uses it as a basis by which to refuse all false forms of subjectivity. As I show in both his lived experience and his political theory, this refusal takes on a form that is both negative and positive. The positive aspects of his refusal involve forms of engagement with counterinterpellation, other sources of identity that, while no more “authentic” or true than the false subjectivity he resists, pluralize and complicate (or even anarchize) the kinds of subjectivity and politics that come from the colonial and postcolonial experience.