Saturday, 24 September 2011

Relative Opacity: A New Translation of Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth - Mission Betrayed or Fulfilled?

by Nigel Gibson, Social Identities, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 2007, pp. 69-95

Frantz Fanon’s revolutionary text The Wretched of the Earth has had a major impact on English-speaking readers since it first appeared in translation in 1963. This article charts the shifting contextualization of the book as it has framed subsequent editions, culminating in an exploration of the most recent translation by Richard Philcox. By contrasting this translation of the book with previous versions, and also by critically examining the new forward by Homi K. Bhabha, the author explores Fanon’s relevance to the current social and political world. He finds continued relevance for The Wretched in Fanon’s quest to get beyond the manicheanism that characterises the colonial and anti-colonial periods as well as the contemporary rhetoric of Bush and Bin Laden. The author argues that our engagement with Fanon should begin from his most critical insights into the postcolonial period and in his critique of the national bourgeoisie and postcolonial petit bourgeoisie, which is grounded in an engagement with Fanon as a living thinker.

Click here to download this essay in pdf.