Frantz Fanon’s 'Black Skin, White Masks

New interdisciplinary essays

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Max Silverman
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Frantz Fanon's Peau noire, masques blancs (Black Skin, White Masks) was published by the Paris-based publishing house Editions du Seuil in 1952 when Fanon was twenty-seven. This book first develops the theme of the francophone contextualisation of Peau noire by concentrating on the specifically Martinican references in the text which have either been effaced or distorted in subsequent representations of Fanon. By retrieving the specific cultural and historical significance attached to particular linguistic items in the text, the book reveals the unconscious traces of a history which Fanon consciously wants to expunge. It is precisely the question of expunging the past. The book argues that Fanon's desire for a violent rupture with the past and a new beginning rules out the possibility of a Creole conception of Caribbean history and culture associated today with the writers. The book also situates Peau noire in the context of racism in metropolitan France and explores different aspects of Fanon's engagement with Sartre in Peau noire. It focuses specifically on the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism, and discusses Fanon's engagement with another of Sartre's texts, 'Orphée noir'. The book further discusses Fanon's engagement with Sartre and the tension between universalism and particularism. Finally, it concentrates on studies of the psychic, existential and political dimensions of racial ideology in Peau noire.

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