The Impossible Logic of Assimilation


  • Robert Bernasconi The Pennsylvania State University



Memmi, Sartre, race, racism, colonialism


In this essay I argue that Memmi’s analysis in The Colonizer and the Colonized transcends the colonial situation of the 1950s. The remorseless logic exposed by Memmi, whereby the colonizer and the colonized are locked together in mutual dependence within a polarized society, applies whenever a dominant group insists that various minorities conform to the role assigned to them. Memmi’s philosophical and literary works, read with reference to the logic of assimilation, retain a wider application beyond the immediate context for which they were written. 

Author Biography

Robert Bernasconi, The Pennsylvania State University

Robert Bernasconi is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Penn State University. He is the author of two books on Heidegger and a book on Sartre, as well as numerous articles on nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy and in Critical Philosophy of Race as well as political philosophy. He has edited or co-edited books on Levinas, Derrida, Gadamer, Existentialism, and the history of racism.