Frantz Fanon

  • Frantz Fanon biography, books, psychiatrist, anti-colonialist
    Date of birth:
    July 20, 1925
    Date of death:
    December 6, 1961

Frantz Omar Fanon was psychiatrist and essayist from Martinique. Psychiatrist, writer, anti-colonialist fighter, Frantz Fanon marked the 20th century by his thought and his action, despite a brief life hit by the disease.

Frantz Fanon was born on July 20, 1925 in Fort-de-France, Martinique. He is the fifth child of a mixed family of eight children. He received his education at the Lycée Victor Schoelcher at Fort-de-France where Aimé Césaire taught at the time.

Denunciation of Racism

In 1943, he enlisted in the regular army after the rallying of the French West Indies to General de Gaulle. Fighting with the French army of General de Lattre de Tassigny, he was wounded in the Vosges. Engaged to fight for an ideal, it is faced with "ethnic discrimination, nationalism in miniature." He then returned to Martinique, where he took the baccalaureate (high-school degree). After obtaining his degree, he left for France.

Having received a quote by General Salan, he received a scholarship for higher education as a veteran, allowing him to study medicine while having lessons of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Lyon.

Of its experience of black minority within French society, he wrote "Black Skin, White Masks," a book in which he denounced racism and "linguistic colonization", that he is one of the victims in Martinique. But this book is frowned upon its publication in 1952.

Here is an excerpt: "Do I have on this Earth, which already tries to steal, ask me the problem of the black truth?
Should I shut myself in the justification of a facial angle? I have no right, me, colored man, to seek, wherein my race is superior or inferior to another race.
I have no right, me, colored man, to wish me the crystallization in the white, of a guilt towards the past of my race.
I have no right, me colored man, to worry about the means that would allow me to trample the pride of the old master.
I do not have the right nor the duty to demand compensation for my servants ancestors.
There are no negro mission; no white burden.
I discovered me, one day in a world where things are evil; a world where one claims me to fight; a world where there is always a question of annihilation or victory.
I discovered me, man, in a world where the other, interminably, hardens.
No, I do not have the right to come and shout my hatred to white.
I do not have a duty to whisper my gratitude to white.
There my life lassoed of existence. There my freedom that returns me to myself. No, I do not have the right to be black.
One duty. The right not deny my freedom through my choices.

Frantz Fanon repeatedly evoke racism he feels victim in Parisian intellectual circles, saying "South America, for the negro, is a sweet country, beside the cafes of Saint-Germain."

Commitment to Algeria's independence

In 1953, he was appointed chief doctor of the psychiatric hospital in Blida, where he introduced modern methods of "Social Therapy" or "institutional psychotherapy" it fits to the culture of the Algerian Muslim patients.

It then proceeds with its internal, an exploration of myths and traditional rites of Algerian culture. His willingness to alienation and decolonization of Algeria opposes front to psychiatric environment to the theses of the School of Algiers of Antoine Porot " braggart, liar, thief and lazy, the North African Muslim is defined as a moron hysterical, subject in addition, to unpredictable homicidal impulses ."

"Native of North Africa, that the cerebal cortex is little change, is a primitive being whose life mainly vegetative and instinctual, is mostly controlled by the diencephalon ". "The Algerian has no cortex, or, to be more precise, it is dominated, as in lower vertebrates, by the activity of the diencephalon."

For Fanon, it is rather the colonization resulting in depersonalization, which makes man a being colonized " infantilized, oppressed, rejected, dehumanized, acculturated, alienated " able to be taken into over by the colonial authority. "The first thing that the native learns is to stay in his place, not to exceed the limits. This is why the native dreams are muscular dreams, dreams of action, aggressive dreams. I dream that I jump, I swim, I run, I climb. I dream that I burst out laughing, that I crossed the river in a stride, that I am pursued by a pack of cars that never catch me. During colonization, the colonized does not stop to release between nine o'clock and six o'clock. This aggressiveness sedimented in his muscles, the colonized will first manifest against his. This is the period when the negroes puff them and where police officers, investigating judges do not know where to turn to the stunning North African crime."

In 1956, two years after the outbreak of the war of national liberation in Algeria, Fanon chooses his side, that of the colonized and the "oppressed peoples". He resigned from his post at the hospital and joined the National Liberation Front (FLN) in Algeria.

He had important responsibilities within the FLN. He joined the FLN. in Tunis, where he worked in the central organ of the FLN press, El Moudjahid. He was special advisor to several states of Black Africa and ambassador of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA) in Ghana.

His writings

From his earliest writings, Fanon continues to refer to the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (including Anti-Semite and Jew, Black Orpheus, and Being and Nothingness). Upon publication of the Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960), it is to send a copy of the book and it manages to read despite his condition (leukemia). He even made a conference on Critique of Dialectical Reason to the Algerian fighters of the National Liberation Army.

In 1960, he asks Claude Lanzmann and Marcel Peju, come to Tunis to talk to the manager of the GPRA, to meet the philosopher. He also wants Sartre preface his latest book, "The Wretched of the Earth. He met Sartre in Rome during the summer of 1961. Sartre interrupts his strict working schedule to spend three whole days talking with Fanon. As, Claude Lanzmann, says"for three days, Sartre did not work. We listened to Fanon for three days. [...] These were three grueling days, physically and emotionally. I have never seen Sartre also seduced and upset by a man. "(The Patagonian hare).

The admiration is mutual, as reported by Simone de Beauvoir: "Fanon had plenty to say to Sartre and questions for her ." "I would pay twenty thousand francs a day to talk with Sartre all day for fifteen days ," he said, laughing, to Lanzmann. "(The Forces of things). He escaped several attacks in Morocco and Italy. Until his death, Frantz Fanon has set no limits to the cause of "oppressed peoples". Suffering from leukemia, he is being treated in Moscow, and then in October 1961 in Washington, he retired to write his latest book "The Wretched of the Terre". He died on December 6, 1961.

He is buried in the cemetery chouhadas (martyrs cemetery of war) near the Algerian-Tunisian border, in the town Ain Kerma (wilaya of El-Tarf) in Tunis. He is survived by his wife, Marie-Josephe Dublé, called Josie (died July 13, 1989 and buried in the cemetery of El Kettar in the heart of Algiers), and two children: Olivier born in 1955, and Mireille who married Bernard Mendes-France (son of Pierre Mendes France). In tribute to his work in psychiatry and his sacrifice for the Algerian cause, Blida-Joinville Hospital where he worked now bears his name.