Fanon’s Lacan and the Traumatogenic Child: Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Dynamics of Colonialism and Racism

Theory, Culture and Society 33 (4):77-101 (2016)
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This paper revisits Fanon’s relationship with psychoanalysis, specifically Lacanian psychoanalysis, via a close reading of his rhetorics of childhood – primarily as mobilized by the ‘Look, a Negro!’ scenario from Black Skin, White Masks, the traumatogenic scene which installs the black man’s sense of alienation from his own body and his inferiority. While this scene has been much discussed, the role accorded the child in this has attracted little attention. This paper focuses on the role and positioning of the child to reconsider Fanon’s ideas, in relation to his contribution to the social constitution of subjectivity, arguing that reading Fanon alongside both his citations of Lacan and some aspects of Lacanian theory opens up further interpretive possibilities in teasing out tensions in Fanon’s writing around models of subjectivity. Finally, it is argued that it is where Fanon retains an indeterminacy surrounding the child that he is most politically fruitful.



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