Past the Semantics of Strategy: Identity Formation through Liberation in Frantz Fanon and M. K. Gandhi

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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


Madhu Mitra, English


Upon first glance, Frantz Fanon and M. K. Gandhi seem to be diametrically opposed. Both, facing questions of colonialism, liberation, and identity formation, arrive at the very different strategies of violence and nonviolence. Academia has separated these thinkers into separate "schools," with Fanon's presence in postcolonial studies and Gandhi's in peace studies and history. Both schools of thought fail to sympathetically consider the deeper implications and demands of the other theory. This rift is unwarranted, and if we are to allow the discipline of postcolonialism to adequately answer questions of liberation and identity, we must bring Fanon and Gandhi into dialog and address both their radical differences and their uncanny similarities. Fanon and Gandhi's strategies are intertwined in a dual function of colonial deconstruction and post-liberation rebirth. Their strategies for deconstruction are vastly different, but through the second function of rebirth and identity formation, both Fanon and Gandhi point us to a new understanding of cultural and national identity, formed by active participation, that should challenge our traditional ideas about identity as the world continues to globalize.