Reflections on the human question
in Frantz Fanon’s 'Black Skin, White Masks
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In this chapter the author situates Peau noire within the broader post-war reassessment of race and the human condition. The last pages of Peau noire are a hymn to disalienation, authenticity and freedom which could have been written by a pure disciple of Paul Sartre. Sartre's Réflexions sur la question juive is itself a powerful exposé of the trap for the Jew posed by the universalising and particularising mechanisms at work in modern French society. However, Frantz Fanon is aware of the drawbacks of Sartre's approach. In his discussion of Sartre's 'Orphée noir' he objects bitterly to the way in which Sartre devalues blackness by defining it as simply oppositional to whiteness. Fanon is also intensely aware of the universalist foundations of Sartre's Hegelianism whose master narrative, the dialectical unfolding of history, situates 'race' as simply a stage on the path of progress towards a disalienated society.

Frantz Fanon’s 'Black Skin, White Masks

New interdisciplinary essays

Editor: Max Silverman
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