Infrastructures of Decolonization: Scales of Worldmaking in the Writings of Frantz Fanon

Political Theory 50 (1):5-31 (2022)


Political theorists are increasingly drawn to the recovery of anticolonial thinkers as global figures. Frantz Fanon is largely excluded from these discussions because of his presumed commitment to the nation-state and its territorialist assumptions. This essay claims, by contrast, that Fanon’s writings reveal an alternative way of thinking about worldmaking, less as a question of political and economic institution-building spearheaded by leaders than as a multiscalar project that permeates the production of the built environment and the creation of selves. I show how Fanon challenges the dichotomy between the global and the national by seeking to transform not just the national scale in relation to the international, but also the corporeal, urban, rural, and regional scales of an imperially configured world. In order to read Fanon as a scalar thinker and to highlight aspects of his thought that have been relatively neglected, I draw on concepts from geography, and specifically scalar analysis, which, I demonstrate, allows political theorists to develop a richer understanding of the operations of power in colonial contexts and how they can be restructured to inaugurate more liberated ways of being human.

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