All the Men Are Fighting for Freedom, All the Women Are Mourning Their Men, but Some of Us Carried Guns: A Raced‐Gendered Analysis of Fanon’s Psychological Perspectives on War

Authored by: Aaronette M. White

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Algeria
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2007
Citation: White, Aaronette M. "All the Men Are Fighting For Freedom, All the Women Are Mourning Their Men, but Some of Us Carried Guns: A Raced-Gendered Analysis of Fanon's Psychological Perspectives on War." Signs 32 (2007): 857-84.

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Anti-colonial revolutionary theorist Frantz Fanon provided a justification for people’s wars, suggesting that they contributed to the reversal of the inferiority complex created by colonization. Indeed, by asserting their humanity through a violent confrontation with their oppressors, Fanon claimed, the colonized could achieve recognition of their humanity, which had been denied by their colonizers. Although there is no question that revolutionary violence has been effective in struggles for national independence, has it also had the psychological effects predicted by Fanon? Can the debilitating effects of colonized identity be transformed through revolutionary violence? This is the question the author seeks to explore. By drawing upon firsthand accounts of the anti-colonial war experiences of African women ex-combatants, archival research of government documents, human rights organizations’ reports, and current psychological research on the effects of military combat, the author suggests that Fanon was overly optimistic about the psychological potential of revolutionary violence. I also argue that his optimism stemmed from his neglect of particular gendered aspects of anti-colonial war.