Dialectic vs Phenomenological Readings of Fanon: on the Question of Inferiority Complexes

Chiasmi International 24:275-291 (2022)
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One of the strongest critiques against Fanon’s work centers on the idea that Fanon leaves black subjects caught in slavish regard of whites. Such a depiction of the black subject does not explain Fanon’s own life and his ability to escape slavish regard of whites and become a formative intellectual. Such slavish regard of whites, in other words, the idea of an inferiority complex has been challenged by notable current black philosophers, including Lucius Outlaw. In autobiographical references within Fanon and Outlaw’s work, the two scholars share similar childhood experiences but draw very different conclusions on the development of an inferiority complex. I argue that this estrangement in slavish regard of whites occurs when reading Fanon’s work only through a dialectic framework. A phenomenological reading of Fanon’s work illuminates the ambiguous possibilities of experience. In a phenomenological reading of experience, admitting inferiority complexes does not necessarily debilitate and trap subjects in perpetuity.

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Emily S. Lee
California State University, Fullerton

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Personal identity, narrative integration, and embodiment.Catriona Mackenzie - 2009 - In Sue Campbell, Letitia Meynell & Susan Sherwin (eds.), Embodiment and Agency. Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 100--125.
World, Flesh, Vision.Françoise Dastur - 2000 - In Professor Fred Evans, Fred Evans, Leonard Lawlor & Professor Leonard Lawlor (eds.), Chiasms: Merleau-Ponty's Notion of Flesh. SUNY Press. pp. 23-49.

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