Seminar 6

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. What does Fanon say about French, creole, and pidgin in this regard?
  5. 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?
  6. Explain the idea of different sorts of capital, and how we can use these ideas to describe Fanon’s claim.
  7. What is the linguistic double-bind that confronts the colonised person?

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