Fanon’s "Zone of Nonbeing": Blackness and the Politics of the Real

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This chapter reconvenes dialogue between Fanon and Lacanian theory in order to analyze Fanon’s study of colonialism and racism in Black Skin, White Masks (1952). Specifically, my aim here is to read Fanon against the grain to theoretically explicate the concepts of “zone of nonbeing” and “Blackness” in relation to Lacan’s theory of the Real. Though Black Skin, White Masks is routinely sidelined by postcolonial scholars in favor of Fanon’s later writings, i.e. the Wretched of the Earth (1961), I will contend that a focused examination of this text can unravel Fanon’s most important contribution to the study of colonialism, namely, conceiving colonialism less in terms of social justice—as a question of economic and/or political inequality—and more in relation to ontology. Further, I will offer a (limited) hypothesis regarding the connection between Fanon’s psychoanalytic critique of racism and his vision of decolonial liberation: revolutionary violence and the New Man.


Lacan and Race: Racism, Identity, and Psychoanalytic Theory is volume 9 of the Psychology and the Other book series.

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