Black For a Cause

NEW. Coming soon. A Fanonian reading of the Oval 4 Epidode


Honouring Frantz Fanon






The twentieth century, when the future looks back on it, will not only be remembered as the era of atomic discoveries and interplanetary explorations. The second upheaval of this period, unquestionably, is the conquest by the peoples of the lands that belong to them. 1



Frantz Fanon was perhaps the greatest thinker of the 20th century on colonisation, colonialism  and decolonisation; on the psychology of the oppressor and the oppressed; on colonial psychiatry and the 'colonial neurosis'; on the violence intrinsic to colonialism and on the psycho-politics of counter-violence in anti-colonial struggle.2  According to Bulhan, he was also much sought-after by new interns for his new approaches to psychiatric care.  The question this essay poses is this: are Fanon's political and psychological analyses pertinent and applicable to an analysis of the Oval 4 episode? That is the question my forthcoming publication, A Fanonian Reading of the Oval 4 episode: A Postcolonial Encounter?  will seek to answer. Why is the Oval 4 episode of significance for an application his writings, and what will it reveal about the contexts and their dynamics?  The following is a ‘taste’ of those arguments.


In this volume I seek to determine if the Oval 4 episode can read as an example of a postcolonial encounter?  To answer to that question I mobilise the political and psychological analyses of Frantz Fanon to illuminate further our understanding of the Oval 4 episode and the contexts within which it occurred.   Specifically, how does Fanon’s analysis the colonial encounter in The Wretched of the Earth contribute to my assertion that the Oval 4 episode stands as an example of a postcolonial encounter?  What is the colonial encounter and how does it provide an analysis of the essential dynamics of colonialism? What is the relationship between the colonial and the postcolonial in terms of their essential dynamics?  How does the concept of the postcolonial offer any illuminative or even critical value for a Fanonian reading of the Oval 4 episode?   The possible answers to that single question have multiple dimensions and these are explored across four Chapters. 

In Chapter One, entitled ‘Why Frantz Fanon,’   I make the case for what I call a  Fanonian reading of the Oval 4 episode.  An ‘episode’ is defined as “an event or a group of events occurring as part of a sequence.” A fuller and more relevant definition of an ‘episode’ is that it is a “significant incident … an event that is a part of but distinct from a greater whole and that often has specific significance.”5   As a Fanonian reading, the Chapter explores the historical, political and psychological significance of the episode in relation to the “greater whole” of its contexts through an application of Fanon’s political and psychological analyses.

The intention is to move our understanding of that episode, from its original analysis as a ‘significant event’ that was part of a sequence of arrests of young black males during the 1972 “mugging scare,”  to that of a Fanonian analysis of its  'postcolonial' context and its anti-colonial dynamics. To carry out this transformation that significant  event will not be analysed in its original designation as a ‘confrontation’ between the Oval 4 and undercover detectives, but rather as an ‘encounter’ between black activists and agents of the ‘postcolonial state.’   The significance of Fanon’s  analyses to understanding the anti-colonial dimension of Black activism in Britain in the 1970s is clarified, as well as its connections to Black Power activism in the Caribbean, and to anti-imperialist struggles in TriContinental nations, formerly the so-called ‘Third World.’

Du Bois and Fanon

It was at the dawn of the 20th century that WEB Du Bois posited, famously, that the problem for the coming century would be the ‘colour line.’ It was a  concept he first introduced to black academics in 1900 for them to consider “the problem of the color line, not simply as a national and personal question but rather in its larger world aspect in time and space.”  His critical question was “what part is the color line destined to play in the 20th century?” Was colour destined to be one of “social forces which move and modify your age?” 6

European imperialism, driven by what Eid7calls the “assumption of superiority,” was the “social force” that ‘moved and modified’ the 20th century, becoming known as  ‘globalization' in the 21st century.  It consolidated and globalised its assumed racial superiority through the cultural psychology of the ‘colour line’ in imperialist-driven colonial conquest.  Both Du Bois and Fanon agreed that the ‘colour line’ not only structured the thoughts and political practices of the ‘foreign’ oppressor it structured also the thoughts, cultures and actions of the oppressed. 8

It was in the mid 20th century when Fanon stated that the “second upheaval” for the remainder of the century would be the anti-colonial struggle for decolonization and full independence.   For Fanon ‘decolonization’ was and is the global political project for the second half of the 20th century and now the “unfinished business” for the 21st century.   As Tronto 9 observes “it may well be that the great revolution understood from the 20th century is not the Bolshevik revolution, or the Chinese revolution, but the anti-colonial movement.” We know that the anti-colonial movement does not just refer to those peoples and nations fighting to eject colonial influences from their national territories, but includes also migrants from those territories and their descendents resident in the colonising nation. Their fight was to eject colonial influences from their cultures and their mind - their ‘mental territory’ - in a psycho-political strategy of ‘mental decolonization.’  Black activism in Britain was directed to this mental decolonisation by developing its anti-colonial counter:  a  Black Consciousness.  Within an anti-colonial trajectory, the emergence of the Black Movement in Britain, I argue, becomes repositioned as part of the anti-colonial narrative in Fanon's “second upheaval” of the 20th century, now the "unfinished business" for the 21st century.



1] Fanon,  F, 'Towards the African Revolution,' Middlesex, Pelican Books, 1970:130

2]  Fanon, F, 'The Wretched of the Earth, 'Middlesex, Penguin Books, 1967: 28 

3]  Bulhan, HA, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression,  Plenum Press, New York, 1985: 33 

4]  Oxford Educational Dictionary Online

5]  Encarta Onloine Dicxtionary

6] 'Du Bois and the Question of the Color Line: Race and Class in the Age of Globalization,'    2011: 1

7] Eid, H, 'Representations of Oslo Intelligentsia: A Fanonian Reading of the Intellectual Landscape in Post-Oslo Palestine,'   Nebula, 4.2. 2007

8] Black, M, 'Fanon and DuBoisian Double Consciouisness,'  Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self Knowledge, Summer, 2007

9] Tronto, J, 'Frantz Fanon,' Contemporary Political Theory, New York, Palgrave, 2004: 2



Powered by Create Ecommerce