Revolutionary in Counter-Revolutionary Times: Elaborating Fanonian National Consciousness into the Twenty-First Century


  • Jane Anna Gordon Temple University



Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, Rousseau, general will, nationalism, national consciousness


One of the unique challenges of reading Les damnés de la terre (The Wretched of the Earth) today is that while it is an irredeemably revolutionary text, we live in a counter-revolutionary moment or in a global context that has tried very hard to discredit even the possibility of revolution. Fanon’s text does not only narrate the effective undertaking of an anti-colonial struggle—of what is required for people to identify the actual causes of their alienation and unfreedom and together to will their elimination—it also outlines the various, often dialectical challenges of restructuring a society from the bottom up. Guiding and evident in the latter is the flourishing of what Fanon suggestively called national consciousness. Elaborating its meaning and ongoing usefulness is the focus of this essay.

Author Biography

Jane Anna Gordon, Temple University

Jane Anna Gordon teaches in the Department of Political Science at Temple University. She is the author of Why They Couldn’t Wait: A Critique of the Black-Jewish Conflict Over Community Control in Ocean-Hill Brownsville, 1967-1971 (Routledge, 2001) and co-editor of A Companion to African-American Studies (Blackwell, 2006) and Not Only the Master’s Tools (Paradigm 2006). She is also co-author of Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Paradigm, 2009) and is completing her next book, Creolizing Political Theory: Reading Rousseau through Fanon (Fordham, forthcoming).