Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks offers a radical analysis of the psychological effects of colonization on the colonized. Born in 1925 on the island of Martinique—at the time a French colony—Fanon witnessed first hand the abuses of white colonizers and the system’s effects on his country. His revulsion was only confirmed later in life when he worked as a psychiatrist in Algeria, another French colony.
Black Skin, White Masks was written in 1952 when Fanon was just 27 years old. The text of his first book is uncompromising, both in form and in argument. It dissects the dehumanizing effects of colonialism by linking socio-economic and psychological analysis of the predicament of colonized people, and demonstrating the important role of the literary imagination in describing and challenging its effects.
Fanon’s work played a pivotal role in the civil rights movements of the 1960s and was later taken up by scholars of postcolonialist studies, a discipline that examines the cultural, political and psychological legacies of colonialism.