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'To explain the other to myself': Fanon, Ramasamy and Identity Politics

Manoharan, Karthick Ram (2015) 'To explain the other to myself': Fanon, Ramasamy and Identity Politics. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis compares the identity politics of Frantz Fanon and ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy. After framing an interpretative paradigm through which the core ideas of Fanon could be deciphered, an interpretation of Fanon as a rigorous critic of identity politics is arrived at. Exploring Fanon’s strained relation with the particularist Black identity politics of Negritude and his own imperative for the need to transcend from particularist identity politics to a genuine, universal humanism, I seek to prove that while Fanon rejected the false universalism of European humanism, he did not support rigidly identitarian movements either. Fanon’s universalism was based on a reciprocal and respectful recognition between cultures and peoples, working towards a universal humanism. After a brief introduction to the socio-historical context of Ramasamy’s politics, I then use this Fanonist lens to critique the anti-caste political discourse of Ramasamy, especially how he articulated his concerns towards the Brahmin Other and the non-Brahmin Self, and his approach towards the untouchable Dalit castes. I argue that his fixation with the Brahmin identity as the ultimate Other responsible for the inferiorization of the non-Brahmin castes, and his consideration of this identity as immutable and irredeemable, made a lasting universality impossible. Yet, Ramasamy’s penetrating insights on the myriad ways in which native culture in the colony oppresses minorities and marginalized groups challenges Fanon’s beliefs in the redemptive power of Third World anti-colonial universality. In the conclusion, based on the dialogue between Ramasamy and Fanon, I explore the limits of particularism and the needs of universalism, making a case for a constitutive, but conditional, pluralism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Karthick Manoharan
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2015 16:06
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2015 10:58
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/15650

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