Descension: The Fanon Zone(s)

Michael E. Sawyer


The two texts that serve as bookends to the writings of Frantz Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs and Les Damnés de la Terre are often situated as taking up two different elements and approaches to decolonization. The former dismantling the colonized psyche with aggressive deconstruction of the individual and the latter the shattering of the coercive regime of empire. This edition affords us the opportunity to linger with Black Skin, White Masks and to consider its seismic resonance over the last 70 years. The thinking in this essay is preoccupied with the “zones” that appear in Black Skin, White Masks in two ways. The first means to ensure that the attention granted to the zone of nonbeing does not distract us from the existence of another zone of subject (re)creation found in the text, the zone of hachures. The ambition here is to do a bit more that present a taxonomy of Fanon’s zones but to demonstrate the manner in which they function as essential components in a chain of reasoning and activity that is aimed at decolonization.


Fanon; zone of nonbeing; Black Skin, White Masks; colonialism; anti colonialism

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