Title

Black Skin, White Masks : Fanon's Appropriation and Interpretation of Existentialist Phenomenology.

Authors

Hillary Borrud

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2001

Abstract

In his 1952 exploration of black identity in Black Skin, White Masks , Martinican psychiatrist and revolutionary Frantz Fanon approaches his personal experience of assimilation to European whiteness and alienation from his blackness through a framework of existential phenomenology. Fanon critically adopts and interprets the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945) and Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness (1943) in order to produce a phenomenology of black experience. While Fanon agrees with Sartre that the body of the subject is an obstacle to gaining recognition from the other, he argues that Sartre's universal human condition of solipsism assumes the similarity of all subjects. For Fanon, Sartre neglects the complexities of subject and other that arise in the relationship between Black people and White people. Fanon borrows Merleau-Ponty's intersubjectivity in order to explain the existence of racism and a negative Black identity. Therefore, Fanon's Black man is enclosed not only by his physical objecthood but also by the prejudices of those around him.

Advisor

Annabelle Rea

Department

sfls

Support

Support provided by:Ford Research Fellowship

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