Journal Article — The Transcendent and the Postcolonial: Violence in Derrida and Fanon — by Andreas Krebs

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Abstract

In his article “The Force of Law: the Mystical Foundation of Authority,” Jacques Derrida introduces the concept of divine violence. The conditions of, and possibility for, the manifestation of divine violence, however, remain unclear. This article aims to elucidate divine violence through an appeal to Frantz Fanon’s writings on anticolonial violence, arguing that anticolonial violence is a direct manifestation of Derrida’s concept of divine violence. I will also argue that both Derrida and Fanon introduce complementary concepts of transcendence in their discussion of anti-colonial/divine violence which works against the violence of the state and towards a politics that crushes vertical structures of domination. For Derrida, only divine violence has the capacity to escape recreating the violence of the state; for Fanon, anticolonial violence escapes this recreation through constructing a “national consciousness,” a shared subjectivity that circumvents the work by nationalist leaders to recapture power and re-institute the violence of the colonial apparatus. This synthetic reading will introduce a new framework for the analysis of anti-colonial violence, and show that Fanon and Derrida may be read complimentarily for a decolonization of colonized minds, bodies and spaces.

Recommended Citation

Krebs, Andreas. 2007. “The Transcendent and the Postcolonial: Violence in Derrida and Fanon.” Pp. 89-100 in Reflections on Fanon: The Violences of Colonialism and Racism, Inner and Global—Conversations with Frantz Fanon on the Meaning of Human Emancipation (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume V, Special Issue, 2007.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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