Building on the theoretical interventions provided in Red Skin, White Masks, Glen Coulthard's presentation will interrogate the reception and application of psychiatrist-turned-anti-colonial-revolutionary Frantz Fanon's theoretical work in Canadian political thought and activism from the 1960s to the present. Fanon's theoretical influence in the United States has been well noted. The profound mark that Fanon in particular and Third Worldism in general left on post-war US anti-colonial radicalism led cultural theorist Stuart Hall to declare Wretched of the Earth nothing less than “The Bible of Decolonization.” Interestingly, however, Fanon's influence is perhaps even more pronounced in Canada.
For example, Quebecois sovereigntists in the 1960s often borrowed the language of Fanonian anti-colonialism in their own struggles for national recognition, while largely ignoring both Fanon's insights into the problem of recognition in colonial contexts and Quebec's own problematic status as a settler-society complicit in the attempted genocide and dispossession of Indigenous peoples in the province.
Fanon's work was also used by high-level federalists like Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to critique Quebecois nationalism and by multiculturalists like Charles Taylor to chart a conciliatory path between both the claims of Quebec and Canada's concerns about national unity. And, of course, truer to form, Fanon was also an inspiration to both Black nationalists and “Fourth World” Indigenous nations in our respective struggles against displacement and dispossession by the provincial and federal governments. In reconstructing this historical narrative Coulthard aims to re-situate Indigenous decolonization within the global anti-colonial imaginary that once radically informed our struggles for land, freedom and dignity.
Glen Coulthard is Yellowknives Dene and an associate professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Caribbean Philosophical Association's Frantz Fanon Award for Outstanding Book, the Canadian Political Science Association's CB Macpherson Award for Best Book in Political Theory, published in English or French, in 2014/2015, and the Rik Davidson Studies in Political Economy Award for Best Book in 2016.