To Fanon, With Love: Women Writers of the African Diaspora Interrupting Violence, Masculinity, and Nation-Formation Open Access

Tomlinson, Yolande M. S. (2010)

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Abstract

To Fanon, With Love: Women Writers of the African Diaspora Interrupting Violence, Masculinity, and Nation-Formation

By Yolande M. S. Tomlinson

As the epistolary inscription of its title suggests, this project undertakes a critical task of "writing to" and "writing back to" Frantz Fanon on the issues of violence, masculinity, and nation-formation. To this end, I deploy Brian Keith Axel's formulations of "national interruption" to position African diasporic women's novels--specifically Gayl Jones's Corregidora, Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, and Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory-- as critical interruptions to Fanon's formulations. This task unfolds in three parts. In Part I, I begin by undertaking a close reading of Fanon's two seminal texts, Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth, to argue that Fanon's ‘masculinist' politics and drive toward mastery and nation-formation are embedded in his articulation of homelessness and the black male body as a closed-system and an agent of violence. Conceptualized through a corporeal lens, this approach contests some feminist scholars' claims that Fanon's revolutionary project offers liberatory possibilities for women and other vulnerable populations. In Part II, I place the above novels in dialogue with three key issues I find central to Fanon's project of liberation: the master/slave relationship; his revolutionary subjectivity; and, the relationship between violence and nationhood. Throughout this analysis, when the body and healing are analytically privileged above the nation, what emerges is a movement from the language of fragmented bodies (masculinist/nationalist violence) to fragmented geographical borders (diaspora) and a reconstitution of traditional masculinity, community, and belonging. In the final part, the afterword, I explicate the title as an act of "writing back to" Fanon and his feminist interpreters and outline -via Toni Morrison's Love-a new model on which to recuperate Fanon and masculinity for a contemporary feminist anti-violence politics of liberation. Ultimately, this project argues that we must be willing to ‘interrupt' problematic formulations of gender--men as agents of violence, women as victims--and begin to articulate new paradigms of love, gender, and community.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Interrupting Fanon and His Feminist Interpreters …………………..……………….……...1

Part I

Chapter 1

Rebirth of a Nation: Masculine Violence as National (Be)Longing ………….…...….26

Part II

Chapter 2

'Afraid Only of What I'll Become': Rethinking Fanonian Subjectivity

through the Portrayal of Black Sexual Politics in Gayl Jones's Corregidora …….…75


Chapter 3

'My Story is Not After All About Death':

Dangarembga's Corrective to Fanon's Revolutionary Project ………………....….…123


Chapter 4

Cartographies of Healing: Diaspora, Sexual Violence, and Healing

in Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory ………………………………......…....….162

Afterword
To Fanon, With Love: Paradigm Shifts…………….………………………...................206

Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………....................……217

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