Challenging the notion of theory as white and experience as black, LewisGordon here offers a philosophical portrait of the thought and life of the Martinican-turned-Algerian revolutionary psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon as an example of "living thought" against the legacies of colonialism and racism, and thereby shows the continued relevance and importance of his ideas.
As the first book to analyze the work of Fanon as an existential-phenomenological of human sciences and liberation philosopher, Gordon deploys Fanon's work to illuminate how the "bad faith" of European science and civilization have philosophically stymied the project of liberation. Fanon's body of work serves as a critique of European science and society, and shows the ways in which the project of "truth" is compromised by Eurocentric artificially narrowed scope of humanity--a circumstance to which he refers as the (...) crisis of European Man. In his examination of the roots of this crisis, Gordon explores the problems of historical salvation and the dynamics of oppression, the motivation behind contemporary European obstruction of the advancement of a racially just world, the forms of anonymity that pervade racist theorizing and contribute to "seen invisibility," and the reasons behind the impossibility of a nonviolent transition from colonialism and neocolonialism to post colonialism. (shrink)
Her Majesty's Children reveals not only a deeply personal account of the experience of racism but is also a revolutionary work that asks us to reconsider our ordinary practices and lives to recognize and resist the traces of a colonial age of racism that so many claim is only part of our past.
Most research on aboriginal mind and mental health has sought to apply or confirm preexisting European-derived theories among aboriginal people. Culture has been underappreciate. An understanding of uniquely aboriginal models for mind and mental health might lead to more effective and robust interventions. To address this issue, a core group of elders from five separate regions of North America was developed to help determine how aboriginal people conceived of mind, self, and identity before European contact. The process utilized for this (...) study is iterative and involves discussions of teachings, traditional stories, and elder's comments on conclusions drawn. The elders endorsed a relational theory of mind in which mind exists between people as a product of the stories told and created within and by that relationship. Mind is distinguished from consciousness which is without language and exists within the individual as awareness. Language immediately results in an "out there" orientation in which two or more individuals generate stories about their experiences. The community is the basic unit of study for mind and mental health, and mental "illness" is not distinguished from physical "illness," but rather all are seen as a continuum of suffering and pain. What emerged from this research is that North American theories of mind are more closely related to Daoist and Shinto theories than to the logical positivism which drives most of North America's conventional psychology and psychiatry. Within European traditions, however, the philosophy of Mikhail Bakhtin with his emphasis on a dialogical self coupled with system theory comes closest to resembling North American aboriginal theories. This model explains why ceremony and ritual, community interventions, talking circles, and family therapy are more compatible with aboriginal thought than conventional North American biomedicine and psychology. (shrink)
The eminent scholar Lewis R. Gordon offers a probing meditation on freedom, justice, and decolonization. What is there to be understood and done when it is evident that the search for justice, which dominates social and political philosophy of the North, is an insufficient approach for the achievements of dignity, freedom, liberation, and revolution? Gordon takes the reader on a journey as he interrogates a trail from colonized philosophy to re-imagining liberation and revolution to critical challenges raised (...) by Afropessimism, theodicy, and looming catastrophe. He offers not forecast and foreclosure but instead an urgent call for dignifying and urgent acts of political commitment. Such movements take the form of examining what philosophy means in Africana philosophy, liberation in decolonial thought, the unshackling of political philosophy from the liberal moral theory setting the stage for the decolonization of justice and normative life, unleashing the obstacles to cultivating emancipatory politics, challenging reductionist forms of thought that proffer harm and suffering as conditions of political appearance and the valorization of nonhuman being. He asserts instead emancipatory considerations for occluded forms of life and the irreplaceability of existence in the face of catastrophe and ruin, and he concludes, through a discussion with the Circassian philosopher and decolonial theorist, Madina Tlostanova, with the project of shifting the geography of reason. (shrink)
This review article puts two recent publications —Existence and Heritage: Hermeneutic Explorations in African and Continental Philosophies by Tsenay Serequeberhan and What Fanon Said. A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought by Lewis R. Gordon—in conversation with Achille Mbembe’s renowned On the Postcolony, first published in French in 2000, in English in 2001, and here reviewed in the 2015 Wits University Press edition. The opportunity for such a literary dialogue to take place across fifteen years is occasioned (...) both by the latest South African edition of On the Postcolony, which in itself invites a fresh reading of Mbembe’s manifesto on postcolonial authoritarianism in Africa, as well as by the different potential outcome of the postcolonial condition that Gordon and Serequeberhan envision and propose with respect to Mbembe. I argue that while Mbembe’s pessimistic portrayal of the postcolonial present is one whereby it is difficult to envision transformation, both Serequeberhan and Gordon’s books offer a rich philosophical terrain from which to imagine possible futures, grounded in notions of dialogue and solidarity, that, however, vary significantly for each author. (shrink)
Offering a critical examination of LewisGordon’s work by international scholars engaging in radical epistemological transformation for social change, this volume explores the importance of radical theory and thinkers to push for projects of change in the area of Black Existentialism.
LewisGordon presents the first detailed existential phenomenological investigation of antiblack racism as a form of Sartrean bad faith. Bad faith, the attitude in which human beings attempt to evade freedom and responsibility, is treated as a constant possibility of human existence. Antiblack racism, the attitude and practice that involve the construction of black people as fundamentally inferior and subhuman, is examined as an effort to evade the responsibilities of a human and humane world. Gordon argues that (...) the concept of bad faith militates against any human science that is built upon a theory of human nature and as such offers an analysis of antiblack racism that stands as a challenge to our ordinary assumptions of what it means to be human. (shrink)
The intellectual history of the last quarter of this century has been marked by the growing influence of Africana thought--an area of philosophy that focuses on issues raised by the struggle over ideas in African cultures and their hybrid forms in Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean. Existentia Africana is an engaging and highly readable introduction to the field of Africana philosophy and will help to define this rapidly growing field. Lewis R. Gordon clearly explains Africana existential thought (...) to a general audience, covering a wide range of both classic and contemporary thinkers--from Douglass and DuBois to Fanon, Davis and Zack. (shrink)
In this undergraduate textbook Lewis R. Gordon offers the first comprehensive treatment of Africana philosophy, beginning with the emergence of an Africana consciousness in the Afro-Arabic world of the Middle Ages. He argues that much of modern thought emerged out of early conflicts between Islam and Christianity that culminated in the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, and from the subsequent expansion of racism, enslavement, and colonialism which in their turn stimulated reflections on reason, liberation, and (...) the meaning of being human. His book takes the student reader on a journey from Africa through Europe, North and South America, the Caribbean, and back to Africa, as he explores the challenges posed to our understanding of knowledge and freedom today, and the response to them which can be found within Africana philosophy. (shrink)
This article explores several philosophical questions raised by Rebecca Tuvel’s controversial article, “In Defense of Transracialism.” Drawing upon work on the concept of bad faith, including its form as “disciplinary decadence,” this discussion raises concerns of constructivity and its implications and differences in intersections of race and gender.
This article is a reflective essay, drawing upon insights on racism and related forms of oppression as expressions of bad faith, on several influential movements in contemporary philosophy of race and racism. The author pays particular attention to theories from the global south addressing contemporary debates ranging from Euromodernity, philosophical anthropology, and the racialization of First Nations or Amerindians to intersectionality theory, discourses on privilege, decolonization, and creolization.
Originally delivered to mark the fiftieth anniversary of both Frantz Fanon’s death and the publication of his seminal discourse on decolonization, The Wretched of the Earth, these remarks seek to offer a preliminary outline of Fanon’s continuing relevance to the present. Conceptually spanning such touchstone elements of Fanon’s thought as sociogeny, race, violence, the human, and the relation between decolonial ethics and decolonial politics, the authors turn our attention to diagnosing the neoliberal face of contemporary coloniality/modernity and contributing to movements (...) from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, from Philadelphia’s “flash mobs” to the new Latin American Left. (shrink)
Despite a large and multifaceted effort to understand the vast landscape of phenotypic data, their current form inhibits productive data analysis. The lack of a community-wide, consensus-based, human- and machine-interpretable language for describing phenotypes and their genomic and environmental contexts is perhaps the most pressing scientific bottleneck to integration across many key fields in biology, including genomics, systems biology, development, medicine, evolution, ecology, and systematics. Here we survey the current phenomics landscape, including data resources and handling, and the progress that (...) has been made to accurately capture relevant data descriptions for phenotypes. We present an example of the kind of integration across domains that computable phenotypes would enable, and we call upon the broader biology community, publishers, and relevant funding agencies to support efforts to surmount today's data barriers and facilitate analytical reproducibility. (shrink)
This introduction outlines why the author assembled a community of scholars with the task not of commenting on Jane Anna Gordon’s work on creolizing political theory but instead placing it in dialogue with their own. The idea is that the value of theory depends also on the extent to which it could be engaged as a communicative practice with other theories dedicated to a shared concern. In this case, it is scholars committed to thought devoted to concerns of dignity, (...) freedom, and liberation as well as the critical question of the ultimate value of doing theoretical work. (shrink)
This article is the keynote address of the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados, philosophy symposium in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the British outlawing the Atlantic Slave Trade. The paper explores questions of enslavement and freedom through challenges of philosophical anthropology, philosophy of social change, and metacritical reflections posed by African Diasporic or Africana philosophy. Such challenges include the relevance and legitimacy of philosophical reflection to the lives of racialized slaves and concludes with a discussion (...) of the implications of the analysis for an understanding of the “face” of political life and the importance of the concept of “home” for a cogent theory of freedom. (shrink)