Violence, Resistance, and the Poetics of Suffering

in Colonial Madness

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226429724
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226429779 | DOI:
Violence, Resistance, and the Poetics of Suffering

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Frantz Fanon, the Algiers School's most prominent detractor, was merely one voice in a cacophony of protest against colonial psychiatric racism in the twentieth century. This chapter argues that Fanon must be placed in a wider context of resistance that included not only physicians, but also budding post-colonial theorists such as Albert Memmi and fiction writers such as Kateb Yacine. An analysis of works by Fanon's contemporaries—especially Kateb—reveals the extent to which colonized intellectuals inscribed their experiences of suffering and violence in a medicalized language. Central themes for Fanon, including the psychological effects of colonialism, the violence of the colonial encounter, and the regulatory function of colonial psychiatry, made lasting impressions on North African novelists, political theorists, and physicians who contested the colonial order. Borrowing from recent work in medical anthropology, this chapter charts the development of an intellectual culture of resistance that took aim at medical and psychiatric forms of knowledge while highlighting the experiences that shaped local imaginings of violence and suffering in the twentieth-century Maghreb.

Keywords: Frantz Fanon; resistance; Kateb Yacine; suffering; violence; colonialism; psychiatry; Maghreb; colonial encounter; physicians

Chapter.  12667 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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