Thursday, 29 December 2011

Call for Participants: Is Fanon Finished?

30-31 March 2012

The American University of Paris invites proposals for a two-day
interdisciplinary conference that aims to gather critical and
experimental ‘translations’ of Fanon’s ideas into the present.

Organized by the Master of Arts in Cultural Translation Program at AUP
with the support of Academic Affairs, the Master of Arts in Middle
East and Islamic Studies Program, the Master of Arts in Global
Communications Program and the Master of Arts in International Affairs

This year, the 50th anniversary of his death and of the publication of
The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon’s life, work and contemporary
relevance have been widely discussed. The proliferation of
celebrations, conferences, exhibitions and publications in itself
expresses an apparent necessity: we must understand where we stand on
Fanon if we are to grasp our present. To some he constitutes the
archetypal ‘Black Atlantic’ subject, one of the first to articulate
the effects of colonialism and racism on occupied peoples; to others,
he is an advocate of violence as the only means for those subjugated
to gain psychical and territorial independence. To all, it appears he
is a figure with whom we must reckon. Yet the modes of commemoration
and tribute run the risk of monumentalizing Fanon’s contribution,
packaging and parking it in a suspended moment in time.

What is it exactly that we want to hear Fanon say? How does his work
resonate through contemporary events, objects or circumstances?
Starting from the understanding that extensive work has been done
recently to articulate and place his writing and practice as
psychiatrist, black revolutionary and anti-colonial theorist, we would
like to focus here on ‘testing’ his ideas against the present. What is
translatable and what must be discarded? As a writer thoroughly
ensconced in his own context, is there anything to actualize from his
praxis? His multiple geographies (Martinique, France, Algeria,
Tunisia, Ghana), his anticipation of the problems faced by
postcolonial states, and his configuration of a universal free
subject, tend to speak more easily across the half century that
divides him from us than do his normative views of sexuality or his
conception of a future that could only come from a violent breaking
with the past. But have we really finished following through his lines
of thought?

In the spirit of his praxis as keen observer of and actor in the
present, we would like to invite speakers to focus on a specific
aspect of Fanon’s work that traverses their own work and context, be
it academic, artistic, activist, or a mix of the three. How do
Fanonian themes help clarify, or instead obscure, a sense of our own
situatedness in the present?

We aim to organize this conference as a series of panels that open out
onto discussion and debate amongst speakers, and with active
participation from our graduate students here at AUP.

We invite speakers to address issues related, but not limited, to the
following themes:

-       The Arab Revolutions and non-violence

-       Fanon as writer and witness: speaking for the other(s)

-       Imagining a non-Eurocentric universality

-       Rethinking African nation-states or a default panafricanism

-       Urban cities of the Global South: locating agency

-       France and Algeria: 50th anniversary of independence

-       Applying a Fanonian method to contemporary forms of cultural

-       “Fortress France” or the metropolis occupied by the ex-colonies

-       Palestine as last colonized territory

-       The Occupy movements as inspired by a South to North
circulation of ideas

-       The effectiveness of violence as an engine of political change

-       Why teach Fanon today?

Please send an abstract (350 words) and a short biography to
 no later than 1 February 2012. Registration is free.

Organizing Committee:

Sousan Hammad, Lisa Damon

For enquiries, contact: