New interdisciplinary essays
Editor: Max Silverman

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.

Max Silverman

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.

in Frantz Fanon’s 'Black Skin, White Masks
Abstract only
Max Silverman

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book develops the theme of the franco-phone 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 Frantz Fanon. It situates Peau noire in the context of racism in metropolitan France. The book focuses specifically on the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism. It discusses Fanon's engagement with another of Paul Sartre's texts, 'Orphée noir', which he wrote as introduction to Léopold Senghor's Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache de langue française. The book also discusses Fanon's engagement with Sartre and the tension between universalism and particularism. It traces Fanon's treatment of unconscious processes informing Negrophobia. The book explores different aspects of Fanon's engagement with Sartre in Peau noire.

in Frantz Fanon’s 'Black Skin, White Masks