The Afterlives of Frantz Fanon and the Reconstruction of Postcolonial Studies
Keywords:Fanon, postcolonial, Cold War, imperialism, publishing, Third World
AbstractThis essay mobilizes Fanon as a point of entry into mapping the current state of postcolonial studies, and within that, reflects on what constitutes the postcolonial canon. Over a gradual course of the eighties and nineties, there has come about a transition from the field’s founding moments in which anti-imperialism, tricontinentalism, Third World nationalism and aesthetics of realism and resistance thrived, to the current trends that show a slant toward postmodernist fragmentation, multiculturalism, issues of diaspora, metropolitan narratives as well as a proclivity toward theorizing the field itself. There are many reasons for this: the specific dynamics of the post-Cold War American culture within which these works were received; the compromised relationship between academic and commercial publishing culture, which made a jump from narratives of decolonization and neocolonialism to metropolitan multiculturalism; and the sway of postmodernism over academia as a whole, which led to a disregard for Marxist theories and, more importantly, to a neglect of realism as a mode and aesthetic in postcolonial theory. These factors have worked together to shape how the genealogy of postcolonial studies and its theory have come to be accepted as “obvious.” This has, in turn, had strong repercussions for the kind of literature and theory that have come to be celebrated and canonized within the field. The essay draws on Anthony Alessandrini's Frantz Fanon and the Future of Cultural Politics: Finding Something Different (2014) and Neil Lazarus' The Postcolonial Unconscious (2011) to offer a reconstructed genealogy of the field of postcolonial studies.
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