Writers and critics from the developing world
Any study of postcolonial criticism should include a number of well-known and well-respected writers from Africa, India, and other former colonies. Some of the major names to be considered are Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Jamaica Kincaid, and Salman Rushdie, among a host of others.
Fanon was a leading intellectual of the twentieth century. Born in Martinique, his work describes the role that intellectuals ought to play in the struggle against colonialism. He was active during World War II, fighting against supporters of the French Vichy government, which cooperated with the Nazis in subjugating the French. He was decorated for his efforts, but after the war found himself regarded not as a French war hero but primarily as a black man. He had expected respect but found disdain; he was seen as “the other,” a person feared and dismissed. He began to despair, as his education—he had begun studying medicine before the war—his language skills, and his elegant demeanor did not keep him from being treated as an exotic and alien specimen.
Fanon’s first book, Peau noire, masques blancs (1952; Black Skin, White Masks, 1967), examines the effects of racism on the psyches of people of color. He describes the anger and pain he feels after his attempts to remake himself into a “white man” with black skin are rebuffed. He then travels to Africa to find the antidote to his psychological pain. In 1953, he finished medical training and moved to Algeria to work as a psychiatrist. In Algeria he experienced revolution firsthand, as Algerians fought for independence from France. Fanon wrote about his experiences as a part of the Algerian struggle. His works include L’An V de la révolution algérienne (1959; Studies in a Dying Colonialism, 1965), Les Damnés de la terre (1961; The Wretched of the Earth, 1963), and Pour la révolution africaine (1964; Toward the African Revolution, 1976). Fanon died from leukemia at the age of thirty-six.