chapter  3
Sartre, Camus and Fanon
Pages 33

Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Frantz Fanon are all border intellectuals. However, whilst Camus and Sartre can be characterised as ‘syncretic’ border intellectuals, Fanon may be seen as the exemplary ‘specular’ border intellectual (JanMohamed 1992). All three, though, are accorded the status of border intellectuals on the basis of their filiation and affiliation with Algeria. Whilst both Camus and Fanon were associated directly with Algeria, with the former being born there and the latter choosing to live there, Sartre was deeply implicated by his unswerving support for its liberation. Although they are not directly linked to French post-structuralism, they each occupy a pivotal role not only because they embody disparate ideological positions but also because of their influence on whole generations of French theorists. Neither Sartre nor Fanon had a simple relationship to Marxism or existentialism – the

movements with which they are linked inextricably. Rather, it is through the ambivalences and complexities of their own positions that we begin to glean the beginnings of the radical disruptions of the Enlightenment made by post-structuralist theory. They were reacting to the triumph of reason and the promises of the French empire that, at least theoretically, accorded its colonial subjects the same rights as in the metropole. In the end, it was the pervasive and excessive colonial violence, the shattered bodies of the colonised, that forced a rethinking of the humanism that underpinned the Enlightenment project (Bataille 1985).