The revolutionary and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon was a foundational figure in postcolonial and decolonial thought and practice, yet his psychiatric work still has only been studied peripherally. That is in part because most of his psychiatric writings have remained untranslated. With a focus on Fanon’s key psychiatry texts, Frantz Fanon: Psychiatry and Politics considers Fanon’s psychiatic writings as materials anticipating as well as accompanying Fanon’s better known work, written between 1952 and 1961 (Black Skin, White Masks, A Dying Colonialism, Toward the African Revolution, The Wretched of the Earth). Both clinical and political, they draw on another notion of psychiatry that intersects history, ethnology, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. The authors argue that Fanon’s work inaugurates a critical ethnopsychiatry based on a new concept of culture (anchored to historical events, particular situations, and lived experience) and on the relationship between the psychological and the cultural. Thus, Gibson and Beneduce contend that Fanon’s psychiatric writings also express Fanon’s wish, as he puts it in The Wretched of the Earth, to “develop a new way of thinking, not only for us but for humanity.”
Foreword Alice Cherki / Introduction / 1. The Thoughts of a Young Psychiatrist on Race, Social Psychiatry, Theories of Madness and ‘the Human Condition’ / 2. The Political Phenomenology of the Body and Black Disalienation / 3. The Ends of Colonial Psychiatry and the Birth of a Critical Ethnopsychiatry / 4. Suspect Bodies: A Phenomenology of Colonial Experience / 5. Further Steps Towards a Critical Ethnopsychiatry: Sociotherapy: Its Strengths and Weaknesses / 6. The Impossibility of Mental Health in a Colonial Society: Fanon Joins the FLN / 7. Psychiatry, Violence, and Revolution: Body and Mind in Context / 8. The Tunis Psychiatric Day Hospital / 9. Bitter Orange: The Consequences of an Anticolonial War / 10. From Colonial to Postcolonial Disorders, or the Psychic Life of History / 11. A Note on Translating Frantz Fanon Lisa Damon / Bibliography
At last a conspicuous gap in the literature has been addressed, and brilliantly so: Gibson & Beneduce guide us through Fanon's explicitly psychiatric work in a way which reorients us to Fanon's own radical history and to our own Fanonian historical moment. A path-breaking contribution to thinking the 'psychic life of power'.
First of all, the writing is superb. Second, the historical nuance and meticulous analysis make the book more than a work on Fanon's psychiatric thought. It's a political history of psychiatry both as a colonial and anti-colonial practice. The former is its unfolding under colonial conditions. The latter is the fact of agency among psychiatrists and psychologists from below … It's a marvelous work (in its own right) of political psychology and even better: it addresses the lacunae in other works--namely, their failure to address colonization, race, and sexuality.
Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics affords a much-needed and long-awaited addition to the literature on Frantz Fanon, an exhaustive study of the least-known aspect of his short but remarkable life, his psychiatric practice and publications.
Roberto Beneduce is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Turin. He is the founding director of the Frantz Fanon Center in Turin. His recent publications include a collection of Fanon’s psychiatric writings in Italian, Decolonizzare la follia. Scritti sulla psichiatria coloniale (2011), and L'histoire au corps (Embodying History) (2016). In 2016 he edited a special issue of the journal Politique Africaine, "Mobilzer Fanon".
Nigel C. Gibson is Associate Professor of Postcolonial Studies at Emerson College. He is author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa (2014), and the editor of Rethinking Fanon (1999) and Living Fanon (2011). He is the editor of the Journal of Asian and African Studies.