Two colonial theories in relation. A Fanonian genealogy

AutorAlejandro De Oto
controVersias y concurrencias latinoamericanas
issn 2219-1631 Vol.6 no. 9 abril 2014
coedición: Journal of latin american communication research
ISSN: 2237-1265
1 A version previous to this article was published: De Oto, A. (2013). Siempre se trató de la modernidad y del
colonialismo. Una lectura entre teorías coloniales desde una perspectiva fanoniana [“It was always about
modernity and colonialism. A reading between colonial theories from a Fanonian perspective”] Cuadernos
del CILHA, 2012-13 (17). Present translation by María Fernanda García.
Alejandro De Oto
This essay explores postcolonial itineraries in relation to decolonial thinking and
focuses on the conceptual and political articulation that Frantz Fanon’s work repre-
sents for both elds. Two main dimensions are at stake here: rst, the discussion on
modernity from the plot of coloniality, and, second, the political dimension that runs
across postcolonial and decolonial readings.
Keywords: Modernity, Postcolonial, Decolonial, Fanon.
184 aleJandro de oto Two colonial theories in relation. A Fanonian genealogy
In September 2013 I participated at the Colloquium Critical Southern Thought.
Genealogies and emergencies. This name evoked a wish to bond dierent weavings
of critical thought, particularly that referring to and coined in the global South. The
issues and the questions in this meeting seemed to indicate that beyond sometimes
deep dierences, among other forms of thought coined in relation to the questions
on the modern and the colonial, the points in common exceed divergences. What is
more, the traces left by dierent generations are still part of the conversation about
the persistent and problematic issue of the intimate relation between modernity and
In the spirit of the colloquium, in this text the proximities, rather than dierences,
between two framing plots of contemporary critical thought are discussed under the
general rubrics of postcolonial criticism and decolonial thinking. This is an itinerary
focused on these two movements with the purpose of articulating them by means
of the Fanonian writing, which is one of the main genealogical keys for many others,
such as the project Shifting the Geography of Reason by thinkers like Lewis Gordon1
and Paget Henry in the Caribbean. Developing the reason why those contact points
turn to be more interesting than dierences cannot be easily done in few pages.
However, it is possible to say that it is in the inhabited and pestered crossroads in
Latin-American, between the geopolitics of knowledge and persistent colonialities,
as well as in the critical processes including the political and epistemological agen-
das oriented in emancipatory terms. Writing from the South is more than writing in a
locality, since it means a place of enunciation and a form of survival. Hence, drawing
relations is crucial.
The contemporary theoretical debates, even the least articulated ones, share their
occurrence in connection to some emplotment opened by modernity, in relation to
1 See in particular Lewis R. Gordon’s (2006) Disciplinary Decadence.Living Thought in Trying Times. In this
book Gordon works on the project Shifting the Geography of Reason. He denes suspension of teleology
of disciplinarity pointing to the multiple and complex events that gave origin to disciplines. Fanon was a
specter in the text, i.e. he was present as a way of thinking on the basis of Gordon’s inquiries.

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