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Escapes and Displacements

Alejandro De Oto, El Colegio De Mxico, CEAA

Part 1 of the author's "'Escapes' and Displacements: Notes on Frantz Fanon's Oppositional Discourse"

In recent years, "Fanon readings" have been recurrent in cultural studies, and specifically in the criticism of colonial discourse. Fanon's work currently gives way to the production of such far-reaching texts that even the most restricted notion of historical context, as a cultural and idiosyncratic category, is displaced and, to a large extent, replaced by notions of cultural mobility, construction and social negotiation of meaning, of community as an almost unlimited space for the intersection of narrations that express a new direction of representation. These texts comply with a difficult pact: reading Fanon beyond the historical period produced by his discourse. Fanon's work is a classic example of the discourse that opposes colonial culture. But, currently, it is also the starting point of postcolonial criticism. The itineraries of this change are complex and relate to different problems and analyses: poststructuralist perspectives on texts; the criticism of disciplinary limits; the emergence of a postimperial culture; and the historical and cultural experiences of millions of individuals that extend beyond any concept of gender, class, and ethnic or national origin. The pact includes the possibility of disseminating Fanon's claims throughout increasingly broader cultural settings, since one of the pact's major requisites is detachment from the most rigid dimensions of the representations of difference; those that reduce the world to a place of binary opposites. The pact therefore includes the possibility of rhizomic thinking in the sense that Deleuze and Guattari (12) gave to this term, as a means of imagining culture at the crossroads of multiple narrations.

Dualism and opposition

This article proposes a reflection on how, within the sphere of the criticism of colonialism, Fanon's texts, can contribute towards building spaces for the representations of culture and society which are less dependent on positions that rigidly display differences and cultural pronouncements. However, it is necessary to discuss briefly the direction followed by a criticism that could be termed traditional with respect to Fanon's work. In the first place, the radical separation produced by the culture of colonialism has been particularly highlighted in Fanon's criticism. It is frequent to find in his writings the construction of a world full of dualisms, of insurmountable dichotomies as, for instance, that of the colonizer and the colonized. From my perspective, emphasizing the divisory nature of such enunciations implies moving Fanon's interpretations of culture and political action towards a dimension of cultural criticism that places subjects within fixed representations of cultural and political identities which reproduce what could be called a predictable context for social and ideological practices. The readings take place, in my opinion, in the framework of

certain conceptual legacies of the theories on dependence and unequal development. From the cultural point of view, such readings are supported by the strengthening of discrepancies that stem from two traditions and cultural projects, among which the "Western" one is hegemonic. Reading Fanon in that direction implies recognizing the oppositional nature of his discourse emphasizing, however, the functions that turn it into a place for the irreducible differentiation of historical subjects, insofar as each represents a determined set of practices defined -- externally -- by the dimension itself of dual concepts. Based on the solidity of Fanon's taxonomies, such readings are guided by a conception of the text that is restricted to the idea of writing as the looking-glass reflection of a reality that the author tries to describe. Thus, the assertion that the author's actions are "correct" (in this case Frantz Fanon) -- would come from the existence of a colonial situation that is expressly opposed by various social actors within the specific time and space of decolonization, from the point of view of both the discourse and the social, cultural and political practices. Fanon's political and cultural texts would then claim their links to a context that includes three characteristic moments. The first moment places Fanon's work as an indivisible part of the historical context where it is displayed; the second considers it as an act of mimesis with respect to itself, as far as the descriptions of concrete processes are concerned; and the third moment thinks of the author's work as an intervention upon the reality that is being described. These kinds of readings require the emerging representations of Fanon's work to remain unchanged, in non-metaphorical terms. The consequences of these readings are diverse. To begin with, they place Fanon's writing within an idea of context that acts simultaneously as reference and framework. Secondly, they presuppose that this author's claims acquire their meaning or are echoed exclusively in the specific domain of national liberation struggles, and in the field of political texts written by decolonized intellectuals. In the third place, these readings territorialize Fanon's claims in a sense that could be described as restrictive. This kind of territorialization does not imply establishing the bases of a new thought, but rather restricting it to a specific time and space. The Wretched... or Black Skin,... should be read only as examples of national liberation struggles of the decolonization period or, at best, as a theoretical reference to analyze processes characterized by that name. In other words, these texts would be available only for a historical delimitation or a specific territorialization of the meanings they contain. From my standpoint, such a conception expresses an idea of culture traversed by an order that transcends the appeals of the concrete assertions of Fanon's writing. When the order of materials rests upon the idea of corresponding to a particular period, Fanon's escape lines are turned off, and, consequently, his work is reduced to the dimension of being an historical source in the narrowest sense of the 19th-century methodical historiography. This cancels the possibility of imagining that Fanon's texts might have a resonance in other times and geographies, that they could produce an uncertain setting, or that they might be present in the social negotiation of meanings throughout an extensive historicity. The notion of order appears when Fanon's writing refers to a taxonomy that proscribes, from the start, different readings, or at least, different texts.

Escapes and Diplacements Displacement and Opposition

Histories, Impure Foundational Histories Last Displacement References

Displacement and Opposition

Alejandro De Oto, El Colegio De Mxico, CEAA

Part 2 of the author's "'Escapes' and Displacements: Notes on Frantz Fanon's Oppositional Discourse"

Thus, thinking about Fanon's texts as forming a network implies a totally different strategy from that which organizes them as an homogeneous unit. It implies considering their associative and multicultural nature, insofar as it becomes a space for the construction of dialogues about the experiences of subordination and emancipation that form part of the contemporary historical and cultural processes. In this sense, cultural identities are among the privileged domains of The Wretched..., and Black Skin..., to investigate the displacement and association strategy contained in Fanon's oppositional discourse. The refusal to configure an African culture from a racial perspective (The Wretched... 211-212), as it appears in Senghor's essentialist views (See particularly Libert III. Ngritude et...), against the background of a national culture, represented by a metaphor of dynamism and transformation, of mobility and differentiation (225), evokes a twofold action: On the one hand, imagining culture as a field of opening and association and, on the other, as a challenge confronting the taxonomy of colonial discourse. This twofold action constitutes the nucleus of Fanon's postcolonial criticism insofar as it produces a force of escape and displacement. It is equivalent to Csaire's marronage, depicted as a permanent transgression of the notions of colonial order and hierarchy. The term marronage (to be interpreted as marooning, which derives from the idea of the runaway negro slaves of the West Indies and the Guayanas' swamps) and the related verb marroner, were coined by Aim Csaire, one of the creators of Ngritude (another of the most powerful neologisms of postcolonial histories). As James Clifford clearly indicates, what Csaire evokes with the term marronage is not only an escape from order and its impositions, but the experience of transgressing and reconstructing culture (220). Such reconstruction begins by imagining that postcolonial identities are basically an act of resistance symbolically represented by opposition but also, and fundamentally, by displacement. In this sense, the experiences of The Wretched... and Black Skin..., emerge as changes confronting the colonial order, with the reinvention of cultural toponimies through a permanent mobility of the "motive" for constructing an identity. Where the presence of colonial order imposes a representation of subjects limited to certain desiccated attributes (negro, oriental, slave,

woman, etc.) Fanon's texts move in the opposite direction and, in passing, produce identities that do not claim difference as a refusal to constitute themselves, but rather as an act of recognition. Consequently, in Fanon's texts, the same as in Csaire's poems, escape is a form of critical displacement with respect to overintegrated and hegemonic conceptions of culture: Today we are present at the stasis of Europe. Comrades, let us flee from this motionless movement where gradually dialectic is changing into the logic of equilibrium. Let us reconsider the question of mankind. Let us reconsider the question of cerebral reality and the cerebral mass of all humanity, whose connections must be increased, whose channels must be diversified and whose messages must be re-humanized. (The Wretched ... 314) Escapes, displacements, motionless movements, networks: these are all cultural strategies of The Wretched... to imagine the way out of a world and a book that do not seem restricted to their most immediate references. Escapes, motionless movements, networks represent the tools "offered" by a maroon writing that, although it finds it hard to break its ties with dual categories, recognizes the need to move, even without changing place. Movement is thus a form of non-subjection. The network represents a form of multiplicity where culture and politics are imagined. Fanon's displacement explores the cultural boundaries of colonialism, and of a construction of culture beyond them. In this sense, his texts are always tension spots that imply, as Homi Bhabha recognizes, the undermining of "our sense of homogenizing effects of cultural symbols and icons, by questioning our sense of the authoriry of cultural synthesis in general" (35). Consequently, movement metaphors bring forth the problem of community and home. In The Wretched... Fanon sketches the drama of dispossession affirming the reason for emancipation that reconstructs the postcolonial community. Black Skin... exerts pressure over the cultural boundaries of the colonized peoples to finally discover that community is possible only after colonial alienation has been overcome. The presence of an historical time and a non-ontological space restore the networks through which Fanon's writing and culture are displayed. Historicity in the displacement is oppositional by definition, insofar as it subverts retrospective images that make us think about societies as places where meanings and cultural practices become permanent (Leed 19). Consequently, home in The Wretched... cannot be a fixed place. It is a home supported by the process of enunciation of culture and colonial criticism. For Fanon, the temporal underlayer of national community enables the establishment of a twofold action of displacement and opposition: If culture is the expression of national consciousness, I would not hesitate to affirm that in the case with which are dealing it is the national consciousness which is the most elaborate form of culture. The consciousness of Self is not the closing of a door to communication. Philosophical thought teaches us, on the contrary, that it is its guarantee. National consciousness, which is not nationalism, is the only thing that will give us an international dimension. (The Wretched... 247)

The reinscription of a community beyond colonialism is imagined as stemming from the development of an awareness about the possessions that emancipation generates. Displacement is, therefore, the key to ceasing reproduction of the desire to inscribe community under the terms of colonial order. But such emancipation is expressed as a separation from the regime of truth that the ambivalent colonial discourse produces, and that holds stereotypes as a major strategy. As Homi Bhabha has pointed out: "Fixity, as the sign of cultural/historical/ and racial difference in the discourse of colonialism, is a paradoxical mode of representation: it connotes rigidity and an unchanging order, as well as disorder, degeneracy and daemonic repetition" (66). A passage of The Wretched... reads: At times this Manicheism goes to its logical conclusion and dehumanizes the native, or so to speak plainly, it turns him into an animal. In fact, the terms the settler uses when he mentions the native are zoological terms. He speaks of the yellow mans reptilian motions, of the stink of the antive quarter, of breeding swarms, of foulness, of spawn, of gesticulations. When the settler seeks to describe the native fully in exact terms he constantly refres to the bestiary. (42) In the animalization of colonized peoples, one of the most impressive passages of The Wretched..., Fanon interprets the excessive use of these terms in the colonial discourse as a lack of self-confidence to establish a final knowledge of the world that, in spite of colonial discourse's central role and the hierarchization produces (for example by means of taxonomy), endlessly repeats the cause of the difference (See "The Other Question" in The Location of Culture). The logic of displacement appears with greater force in Fanon's attempt to retrace the territory where the colonial inscription takes place. For this reason, neither community nor home are possible when the colonized decides to take the place of the colonizer (39). While one of the principles of the demystification of the colonizers' superiority is already at stake here, the desire finally becomes articulated with one of the elements of the stereotype provided by the colonial discourse: natives are ruled by their feelings and not by rational arguments. Community will only be possible when it is no longer necessary to reinscribe a regime of truth to reproduce the conditions of the colonial discourse; that is, when repetition (from an historical point of view) ceases. Such is the opportunity imagined by Fanon for national culture and it is, in turn, one of the most controversial issues of the reading intended here. The nation, or the variation of national culture can be represented as an attempt to decentralize the idea of nation at stake -- said otherwise, the production of a changing, unsteady national culture -- recognizing it as a space that, as Wilda Western has indicated, admits the addition of "metaphorical figures, more voices, greater plurality" (60). But it is also a space where one can see "the power to bar other alternatives", making the claims of subordinate groups seem illegitimate (61). In this sense, the partial tragedy mentioned by Said may reappear, and the force of the displacement with respect to the actions of the colonial discourse may be lost, with the consequent weakening of the oppositional content of a postcolonial discourse achieved by a regime of truth that has only changed its sign. However, as mentioned earlier in this essay, that is a possibility at stake in the readings of Fanon's texts, and the possibility of displacement is also at stake. Let us now explore this more deeply.

Escapes and Diplacements Displacement and Opposition Histories, Impure Foundational Histories Last Displacement References

Histories, Impure Foundational Histories

Alejandro De Oto, El Colegio De Mxico, CEAA

Part 3 of the author's "'Escapes' and Displacements: Notes on Frantz Fanon's Oppositional Discourse"

From my point of view, Fanon's texts establish an agreement with two major dimensions of the criticism of colonialism. The first is linked to a type of historicity that debates itself between the reiterative nature of the colonial discourse and the need to construct an emancipatory account. The second has to do with the emancipation of a global subject. In The Wretched..., for example, evidence of the colonial order confronts the colonized with the dilemma of constructing opposition discourses that, in the first place, seem to respond to the logic of dualism, of the manichean representation of culture. In an effort to make substitutions, the colonized must imagine the world beyond that representation. But the problem lies in the fact that the dualism of the colonial discourse could only be abolished with an effort in the same direction; that is, with a representation of culture that would reproduce the logic of repetition. The overcoming of the colonial context does not imply its fragmentation , but rather its displacement. As Fanons texts show such a movement implies certain homogenization. Let us examine the following passages of The Wretched...: The zone where the natives live is not complementary to the zone zone inhabited by the settlers. The two zones are opposed, but not in the service of a higher unity. Obedient to the rules of pure Aristotelian logic, they follow the principle of reciprocal exclusivity. No conciliation is possible, for one of the two terms, one is superfluos. (39) To break up the colonial world does not mean that after the frontiers have been abolished lines of communication will be set up between the two zones. The destruction of the colonial world is no more and no less

that the abolition of one zone, its burial in the depths of the earth or its expulsion from the country. (41) In this case, abolishing one of the sides represents a project of decolonization equivalent to the foundation of a New World; that is, a representation whose referent remains momentarily unchanged, because abolishing one of the sides implies that thereafter there would be no more sides. The "side" of the colonized disappears during the creation of the New World. The space of the opposition, clear and delineated in the colonial discourse, becomes uncertain. It can be said that the oppositional character of discourses assumes a new shape when the schematization of colonial representations disappears. Historical time is subtly reintroduced as an implicit enunciation. In the colonial dualism historicity was reframed by the time of repetition. The abolition of that dualism clears the way for an historical time that includes different paces and is out of tune and heterogeneous since it cannot prevent the appearance of the difference contained in the stereotypes of the colonial discourse. At that point Fanon privileges two strategies. The first one that imagines a postcolonial society that shares with classic humanism the notion of a global "man," but which opposes it in considering that the new "man" cannot be built from clippings of the European historical tradition. The second one that imagines the possibility of building a policy of identities that stems from the subject's decisions, both from the enunciate's subject and from that of the enunciation, thus enacting a history of decisions. The negro [...] is a slave of his past. However, I am a man, and in that sense the Peloponnesian war belongs to me just as much as the discovery of the compass [...] Somehow I must obtain from the past of colored peoples my original vocation. Somehow I must not try to revitalize an unfairly ill-known negro civilization. I do not become the man of a certain past. I do not want to acclaim the past at the expense of my present and my future. (Black Skin... 202-3) Sartre has shown that the past, following the line of an illegitimate attitude, has "taken" individuals massively and [...] shapes them. Such is the past when transformed into a value. But I too can recover my past, and give it a value or blame it for my subsequent choices. I am not obliged to be this or that [...] If a white man disputes my human nature, I will show him, by making his life bear all my manly weight, that I am not the Y a bon banania that he still imagines. One day I discover myself in the world recognizing one sole right: demanding a human behavior from others. One sole duty: not denying my freedom through my choices. [...] I am not History's prisoner. I must not search there for the sense of my destiny. [...] History's density does not determine any of my acts. I am my own foundation. It is by overcoming what has been historically given, the instrumental, that I start the cycle of my freedom. (Black Skin... 204-5-6) Fanon's twofold strategy in these remarkable passages tends to recover a notion of history that restores the decision-making capacity; it also tries to place decisions within a present condition upon which to establish the construction of an unfragmented awareness. History's determinations forcibly lead to an action that turns subjects into

agents. This implies a historization of the past or, in different terms, a way to stop repetition. For that reason, the appeal to a precolonial past is not included in Fanon's project of emancipation; however, it does delineate a humanism that has moved away from the center of any conception of cultural and historical superiority. It is not possible to stop the repetition and fragmentation of the colonial world claiming roots that grow deep into "before the Fall." If the cycle of freedom is to be reintroduced, the consolidation of a postcolonial culture must be a process with multiple positions. In view of the above, I presume that The Wretched... describes opposition to colonial culture as a struggle in a territory free from roots. This is because no permanence is possible when a new form of nomadism is going to be inaugurated. Neither The Wretched... nor Black Skin... shows a longing for deep, negro, cultural roots from which to oppose colonialism. Nonetheless, these texts allow readings that emphasize an opposing perspective because Fanon presents colonial culture as an inscription. This inscription privileges the groundings (both physical and discoursive) of order and taxonomy in the territory and the bodies of the colonized. In a sense, it could be said that such an inscription captures Fanon's text in a logic of totalizing hierarchies and gazes. But what really occurs is a negative sanction of the value of a root coined in cultural absolutism, in the myth of the origin, and in the predestination of a group of men and women in contrast to another group of men and women. Following the same direction, these texts announce an intention: constituting a "rhizomic" culture in Deleuze and Guattari's terms. That is, a culture available to multiplicities and lines of escape. That intention of constituing a "rhizomic" society is evoked in Fanon's refusal to claim the lost identity, and it is also a form of imagining a unification process in his discourse after colonial fragmentation. Fanon can claim a humanism different from the classical Western one that constructed an homogeneous and hegemonic notion of "Man," because nowadays being human is a matter of networks and decisions. Consequently, both the discovery of the compass and the Peloponnesian War are man's own. At this point, Fanon's existentialist argument, unifying in the direction of an almost essential human experience, becomes intertwined with the claim for an extended and, in many cases, diverging historicity, investing his discourse with a postcolonial project. A space for the dialogue between identities and the social pacts or negotiations of meaning appears at this point. Fanon shows these aspects ambiguously because in a first reading it would seem that he is precisely trying to indicate a failure of the colonial society: the lack of roots. Thus, the colonizer's society is an act of violence, a kind of externality that attempts, and to a great extent succeeds in taking over the body of the colonizer, and the "body" of the land. A particular trait of this society is its amazement before the "deeply rooted" world of the colonized. Fanon states "[t]he settlers feet are never visible"; "[t]he settler's town is a strongly built town, all made of stone and steel. It is a brightly lit town; the streets are covered with asphalt, and the garbage cans swallow all leavings, unseen, unknown and hardly thought about" (39). In the colonizer's practices and representations there is always a distance with respect to the land, which is, paradoxically, the place that the "wretched" long for but already inhabit: For a colonized people, the most essential value, because the most concrete is first and foremost the land...; [...] All that the native has seen

in his country is that they can freely arrested, beat him, starve him.... (The Wretched... 44) But the failure shows something else. The failure shows that there is no escape from a colonial history if it is repeated. Reiteration leads to new foundations that are presented, and therefore represented, as the solution to the colonial "anomaly." Once the links with the land are restored, it is possible to talk again of a culture. In The Wretched... and Black Skin... movement pretends to proceed beyond the discovery of the root. Fanon's criticism of colonial society has shown that it is not possible to think about emancipation if it is not permanently kept away from the center; that is, if it is not preserved from a pattern of oppositions that forces defining who are inside and who are outside. But lacking roots or avoiding a conception of the world from that point of view implies that the dramatic space of dispossession begins to turn into the unsteady ground upon which colonial identities are built, and where the construction of postcolonial identities is debated. Between the demand to beat down the injustice of colonial society, and the desire to occupy the colonizer's place, the intermediate space of an oppositional representation somehow arises. Not absolutely oppositional, as manichean categories, but oppositional insofar as it produces difference as an act that does not follow the rules of the game of the colonial discourse. Decentralization, at this point, is the same as nomadism. It is equivalent to contrasting the "History that does not determine any of my acts" against itself, thus challenging the operations of the classic humanist discourse, which in the colonial world is depicted as lacking synchronization between the colonial institution and its discoursive postulates. The "colonial" reiteration of "fruitful" discourses in the production of power and knowledge in other geographies is, in the colonized societies, a space for the dissection of cultural practices. The subject of enunciation and the subject of the enunciate are represented as two places characterized by an ontological concept of identity. The production of power and knowledge, and the establishment of a regime of truth follow the direction of irreducibly opposed categories. The third space, that is formed between the subject of the enunciation and the subject of the enunciate begins to represent a displacement in the limits of duality (See different passages of "Interrogating Identity..." in The Location of Culture.) This is a crucial moment in Fanon's criticism. When in Black Skin... he speaks of language, he imagines it precisely as a space of crisis, of crisis because it represents a colonial inscription that postcolonial society cannot disregard insofar as the process of emancipation of the colonial subject is based on a new text: To speak [is] [...] to bear the weight of a civilization. A man who knows the language also knows the world explained by that language. All colonized peoples (with an inferiority complex) [...] stand vis--vis the language of the civilizing nation; that is, of the metropolitan culture. (Black Skin...34) Among a group of youngsters of the West Indies, the one who can explain himself adequately, who knows the language as if it were his mother-tongue [...] deserves attention, he is a quasi white. In France it is said: talking like a book; in Martinique: talking like a white. (Black Skin... 36)

And that new text cannot easily do without what could be called the construction of sense. In other words, showing Fanon's liberation effort only in terms of the substitution of a colonial account by a postcolonial one does not solve the problem of inscription and maintenance of sense beyond a brief period of time. If, in the colonial context, talking like a white is talking like a book, then the possibility of inscribing sense and direction rests in the hands of those who are closer to the most "literal" form of culture. That which is capable of making endure the mark left by writing, in spite of the fact that its words may have the sound of repetition and erosion in the colonial space. This dilemma poses certain problems for the criticism of culture that is conceived as a root. The inscription of sense, its production and durability in writing, even in the metaphorical writing of social texts, is a deep mark that Fanon's discourse cannot easily overlook. The wish of the colonized to occupy the place of the colonizer has to do with an inscription related to the culture of writing. In this framework, leaving behind the oppositional categories produced by the colonial space also implies giving up forms of inscription; that is, giving up the idea of a subject that maintains an extensive control over the production of sense. Such a subject would only be possible under the unsteady conditions and nomadism of the process of enunciation in the social text, and in a broad projection of the readers' universe. However, Fanon's project does not contemplate to leave writing aside, even though it always inscribes and makes sense enduring. Paul Ricoeur indicates that "part of the sense of a text is being open to an indefinite number of readers and, consequently, of interpretations [and that this] opportunity for multiple readings constitutes the dialectic counterpart of the text's semantic autonomy" (44). The sense of Fanon's texts can be considered in this way. These texts are "offered" to an extensive and heterogeneous universe of readers who would produce a broad range of interpretations to ensure the permanent opening of this writing. While this can be applied to almost any case, within colonial culture it acquires evident relevance: from reading The Wretched... and Black Skin... it can be seen that the sense of the colonial text and its related practices has become autonomous, and it is therefore very difficult to establish a process of interpretation of such practices aimed at displacing them. Talking like a white, which is in turn talking like a book, is the shape that sense acquires in the colonial representation. This shape acts as a kind of atemporal code that inscribes subjects in repetition. Historicity, or the capacity to remember in order to reconstruct the present, is the response in terms of displacement that Fanon inaugurates. The possibility of historicization then depends on the subjects' capacity to perceive that representations are something constructed and that, as such, they can be replaced. Also, it is possible to imagine an associative experience: one that can be related to other texts and durations. The second dimension mentioned earlier in this section appears at this point. The emancipation of a "global" subject enables Fanon's texts to be read and related to historical, cultural and social experiences that are beyond the narrow contextual limits. It is not only Algeria or Africa in general at stake, but the cultural criticism of any process of subordination. Here The Wretched... and Black Skin... become a new, global scale, ethical subject. The decolonized subject now becomes a model and, as such, the ethico-cultural ideal to be sustained. After the conflict there is not only the disappearance of colonialism but also the disappearance of the colonized man.

This new humanity cannot do otherwise than define a new humanism both for itself and for others. It is prefigured in the objectives and methods of the conflict. (The Wretched... 246) The evidence and criticism of the alienation of the colonized subject -- and of the colonizer -- can be transferred beyond the geographic, historical and cultural limits. Both dimensions, are certainly linked, but the importance of the difference lies in the possibility of seeing how Fanon's discourse permanently moves away from the enunciative subject, producing historico-political dimensions that will prevail longer. The assertion that Fanon generates a humanistic type of thought can be held provided that this difference is established between the reduced historical context where his works appear, and the less restrictive space of a massive criticism of colonialism where negotiated identities would be built.

Escapes and Diplacements Displacement and Opposition Histories, Impure Foundational Histories Last Displacement References

Last Displacement
Alejandro De Oto, El Colegio De Mxico, CEAA

Part 4 of the author's "'Escapes' and Displacements: Notes on Frantz Fanon's Oppositional Discourse"

Displacement, the way it is addressed in this essay, is a deferred problem. Fanon's displacement is towards indetermination; however, this could not be explained unless his texts were read as historico-social programs, which would bring about a reduction of their mobility. The experiences of the fragmented world of colonialism, and the frequently upsetting mobility of postcolonial processes interweave to suggest that beyond the separation between the hegemonic I/We and the subordinate Other/They a more complex process of cultural identifications and origins is at stake. Displacement takes place, as already mentioned, with respect to binary logic but from that point, the problem is different. This is a key aspect of the criticism of colonial discourse, and constitutes a link with other postcolonial writings. For example, two stories by the Islamic Indian writer Saadat Hasan Manto (For a historico-political study -- in Spanish -

- of Saadat Hasan Mantos' works, see Susana Devalle, Saadat Hasan Manto, Antologa de cuentos) occupy the same unsteady space as Fanon's criticism of colonial dualism: "Toba Tek Singh" and "El perro de Tithwal" (The Dog from Tithwal"). In the first story, Manto makes a masterful description of a madhouse where, after the separation of India and Pakistan, "sick" persons are distributed during a exchange in the border. An old man, the main character, refuses to be sent back to any place except Toba Tek Singh. Another patient remains on top of a tree claiming that he wants to live there. The old man finally dies at that no-man's borderland, the space between the Pakistani and Indian lines. "El perro de Tithwal" (The Dog from Tithwal) is about a dog trapped in the battlefront trenches. Indians and Pakistanis permanently "accuse" it of being the Other, and while running between one trench and the other to save its life, it dies. Both tragedies depict the danger of maintaining repetition and preventing nomadism. But above all they represent the actions of a colonial narration that attempts to exorcise, by means of separation, an absolute identity from the dimensions of the same Otherness it institutes. In both stories, the duality of colonial discourse and despair over fixing identities emerge as a postcolonial trope. The "mad" old man and the dog on the battlefront give proof of the strengthening of social and textual legitimacy. In the metaphor taken to its extreme, both characters are brought back to order through death. However, the tragedies where they appear can also integrate a space for the criticism of colonial narrations. Both characters die in an undetermined, no-man's land which, on the one hand, seems like a barren territory but, on the other, foretells a representation of escape and displacement. It is at the boundaries where the legitimacy of colonial discourse is first questioned. Fanon, with a more evident political determination, but definitely close to Manto, understands the criticism of the colonial discourse as a displacement toward undetermined regions. In the last case, whether or not the place of this displacement is national culture is not the most important issue. What matters is that with Fanon's texts we can image that leaving behind determination, and reintroducing historicity, can lead to a different type of journey, that is, to nomadism.

Escapes and Diplacements Displacement and Opposition Histories, Impure Foundational Histories Last Displacement References

Alejandro De Oto, El Colegio De Mxico, CEAA

Part 5 of the author's "'Escapes' and Displacements: Notes on Frantz Fanon's Oppositional Discourse"

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Escapes and Diplacements Displacement and Opposition Histories, Impure Foundational Histories Last Displacement References