In Frantz Fanon’s “The Negro and Recognition,” the Hegelian theme of mutual recognition as the origin of man’s self-consciousness and potential freedom is tested against the complex circumstances to which colonialism leads. Here, Fanon’s idea that the “Negro slave” is recognized by the “White Master” in a situation that is “without conflict” suggests a possible double meaning. More explicitly, it means that the colonial situation after slavery ushers in something like a phony war. Perhaps more suggestively, it implies that colonialism’s historical interpretation or provenance is not exhausted by the Hegelian master-slave logic. On the basis of this double reading or double possibility of the colonial, one may wonder whether, after Hegel, it is historical interpretation or the historical process itself that is broken or has gone awry. Such dynamic tensions exposed by Fanon’s writing suggest, I argue, an imperfect or impossibly divided dialectics at work throughout his corpus. Indeed, the non-self-identical doubleness of colonial displacement and divided critique is perhaps what gives force and expression to Fanon’s interventions in the world, not merely as a historical inspiration but as a multiply charged remainder, something still in the making or yet to come. An acknowledgment of both the limits of theory and its constitutive exposure to the other (other of itself) should orient our response to new readings of Fanon, whether they are more or less theoretical or nontheoretical in tendency.
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Simon Morgan Wortham; Afterword: Impossible Divisions. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2013; 112 (1): 163–170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-1891305
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