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  • 12/6/2003

Frantz Fanon

( 1925- 12/6/1961)

frantz fanon

Frantz Fanon is perhaps the preeminent thinker of the20th century on the issue ofdecolonisation and the psychopathology ofcolonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements throughout the world for the past forty two years.
Fanon was born in1925 on the Caribbean island ofMartinique, then aFrench colony and now a Frenchdépartement. He was born into amiddle class black family and received a typical assimilationist education. At the age of 18, Fanon enlisted in the French army and saw active duty inFrance. In1944 he was wounded in battle and received the Croix de Guerre medal.
In1945, after recovering from his wounds Fanon returned home to Martinique, a decorated war veteran. Already disillusioned withcolonialism and the black man"s place in it, Fanon stayed long enough to complete his baccalaureate and then returned to France where he took up the study of medicine. In 1953 he obtained his qualification as a psychiatrist and travelled toAlgeria, thena French colony, to take up a position at the Blida-Joinville hospital.
The previous year, Fanon had published one of his seminal worksBlack skin, White Masks an analysis of the impact of colonial subjugation on the black psyche. By now Fanon had made a clean break with his French assimilationist upbringing and education. Once in Algeria, Fanon threw in his lot with the FLN rebels, who werefighting to liberate Algeria from French colonial rule. It was during this time that Fanon produced his greatest works,A Dying Colonialismand perhaps the most important work on decolonization yet written,The Wretched of the Earth. InThe Wretched of the Earth Fanon lucidly analyses the role of class, race, national culture and violence in the struggle for national liberation. In this seminal work Fanon expounded his views on the liberating role of violence for the colonised; as well as the general necessity of violence in the anti-colonial struggle. Both books firmly established Fanon in the eyes of much of the Third World as the leading anti-colonial thinker of the 20th century.
In1961, at the age of thirty-six, Fanon was diagnosed withleukemia and he died in December of that year, while undergoing treatment inWashington, D.C., in theUnited States.
Fanon has been both criticized and lionized for what is perceived as his use and defense of revolutionary violence, his absolute scorn fornonviolent activism. Despite these somewhat inaccurate interpretations of his works, Fanon has had an enduring and inspiring impact on anti-colonial and liberation movements throughout the world.

Major works:
Black Skin, White Masks
A Dying Colonialism
Towards the African Revolution
The Wretched of the Earth

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