Native Culture and Literature under Colonialism: Fanon’s Theory of Native Resistance and Development

MHD Noor Al-Abbood

Abstract


This article provides a critique of Fanon’s three-stage narrative of native literary and cultural development. Fanon envisions a “stage-ist” narrative of native culture and literature moving teleologically from a moment of total identification with the colonizers to a moment of total freedom, through an ambivalent stage of nativist resistance. The main question this article addresses is: can we take this narrative, with its explicit and implicit theoretical assumptions, as a paradigm of native cultural and literary anti-colonialism? My argument is that such a narrative does indeed provide indispensable insights in illuminating specific moments or in critically explaining certain themes in the native culture of opposition. Fanon shows acute understanding of the salient issues relating to nationalism and nativism, their constructions of identity and of the past, and their relationship to the West in general. I have nevertheless found that this narrative cannot be upheld as paradigmatic of the colonial experience as such. For it is implicitly premised on the Caribbean colonial experience which is particular enough not to be generalized. The limitations of Fanon’s views, which underestimate the vitality and power of native culture, stem from his conception of colonial power as absolute, at least at the early stage of the colonial relationship. This conception of colonial power as total does not, however, take into account the various ways in which this power has been exercised and resisted at different times and in different places.


Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5539/ells.v2n3p121

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English Language and Literature Studies   ISSN 1925-4768 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4776 (Online)

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