chapter  12
Pages 18

In the final chapter of The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon outlines the psychiatric disorders that colonial violence produces in both Algerians and their French colonizers. After a brief but peremptory statement about the pathology of “reactionary psychoses” that stem from colonial conflict, Fanon describes four case studies. This chapter, “Colonial War and Mental Disorders,” follows the text’s more famous sections on violence and national consciousness that, no doubt, earned it the reputation of revolutionary handbook (the Grove edition bears the bold subtitle “handbook for the black revolution”). Fanon himself notes the incongruity of the subject matter: “Perhaps these notes on psychiatry will be found ill-timed and singularly out of place in such a book” (1991b: 249). Though he does not head off this anticipated challenge (he gives it a characteristic dismissal: “…but we can do nothing about that”), we might ask what this somewhat fragmented and unframed collection of colonial mental disorders is doing in a political manifesto. What does the juxtaposition suggest about the relationship between the subject and the nation? About the relationship between discourses of the psychological and the political? In the first half of this essay, I address these questions by discussing some of the disciplinary and theoretical tensions among discourses of race, nation, and subject. In the second half, I examine the Hollywood film Home of the Brave (1949) in an attempt to use those tensions productively for theorizing the politics of racial subjectivity.