With the flowering of postcolonialism, we return to Frantz Fanon, a leading theorist of the struggle against colonialism. In this thorough reinterpretation of Fanon’s texts, Ato Sekyi-Otu ensures that we return to him fully aware of the unsuspected formal complexity and substantive richness of his work. A Caribbean psychiatrist trained in France after World War II and an eloquent observer of the effects of French colonialism on its subjects from Algeria to Indochina, Fanon was a controversial figure—advocating national liberation and resistance to colonial power in his bestsellers, Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth.
But the controversies attending his life—and death, which some ascribed to the CIA—are small in comparison to those surrounding his work. Where admirers and detractors alike have seen his ideas as an incoherent mixture of Existentialism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis, Sekyi-Otu restores order to Fanon’s oeuvre by reading it as one dramatic dialectical narrative. Fanon’s Dialectic of Experience invites us to see Fanon as a dramatist enacting a movement of experience—the drama of social agents in the colonial context and its aftermath—in a manner idiosyncratically patterned on the narrative structure of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. By recognizing the centrality of experience to Fanon’s work, Sekyi-Otu allows us to comprehend this much misunderstood figure within the tradition of political philosophy from Aristotle to Arendt.