We’ll use this seminar to go over Fanon’s ideas on language that we talked about in the lecture. This is based on chapter 1 of Black Skin, White Masks, so have a look at the text – there is a pdf of the text in the dropbox folder. Here are some questions to help focus discussion:
- What is linguistic determinism? If we adopt this interpretation of Fanon’s claim what is he saying? Can you see any problems with this claim?
- What is hermeneutical injustice? Explain this idea and how Fanon’s work anticipates this theory. Think about how to critique and/or defend his claims.
- Explain Fanon’s idea that language is used to signify status – can you think of examples of this phenomenon (aside from the ones I gave you in the lecture).
- What does Fanon say about French, creole, and pidgin in this regard?
- Think about Fanon’s anecdote of the French priest, and then his account of treating the woman with dementia. Do you agree with what he says about these cases?
- Explain the idea of different sorts of capital, and how we can use these ideas to describe Fanon’s claim.
- What is the linguistic double-bind that confronts the colonised person?