Lewis Gordon’s WHAT FANON SAID soon to be published with Wits University Press

Look out for Lewis R. Gordon’s WHAT FANON SAID: A Philosophical Portrait of his Life and Thought soon to be published with Wits University Press.

When asked why he wrote a book on Frantz Fanon, Lewis Gordon, who is  Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at University of Connecticut -Storss and Nelson Mandela Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rhodes University, South Africa said:

“I was part of a movement that argued the following: a genuinely great thinker offers ideas on which to build.  My relationship with Fanon was primarily through using arguments from his thought that I found useful for my own intellectual work.  I noticed, however, the emergence of Fanon studies proper, and debates in that area of study often hinged on things he was accused of saying or writing that he actually did not say or write and in other cases varieties of misinterpretations in translations from French to other languages.   I was invited by another publisher to write a book on what Fanon “really” said, but it turned out they wanted a very non-intellectual book on Fanon, which I considered an insult to his memory as well as to what I have argued against—namely, the tendency to de-intellectualize the work of black authors through seeking theory from white ones and only experience from black ones.  I thus decided, as I did in my book An Introduction to Africana Philosophy (2008), to write, in philosophical terms, a genuine philosophical introduction to his thought.  The question of an intellectual history of black thinkers requires a philosophy of intellectual history, which I argued for and in fact introduced under the guise of “an introduction” in the earlier book, but for Fanon, the additions also involve  a philosophical biography, for Fanon’s life posed complicated questions of how disciplines meet to study a life.  I thus used ideas from my book Disciplinary Decadence, in which I argued for an approach of, paradoxically, building a philosophy beyond philosophy.  Fanon’s life and even his “after life,” if we will, are heavily political, which makes the task not only one of a philosophy of biography but also a theory of political biography and, by extension, political history.   So, I wrote this book as a project with several aims: (1) articulating a philosophical political intellectual biography not only of Fanon and his thought but also of ideas stimulated by that thought, which means a portrait of Fanon studies as well; (2) exploring the problem of what is involved in studying a thinker from the Global South and demonstrating the scale of fields, disciplines, and political events affected by that thinker; (3) demonstrating Fanon’s continued relevance theoretical and political relevance; and along the way it occurred to me that the book was completed in time to serve also as a celebration of (4) Fanon’s 90th year.”

Book info:

ISBN: 978-1-86814-860-8

Pub date: July 2015

R250 (tbc)



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