Black Skin, White Masks

Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (1961) is essential reading for anyone interested in anti-colonialism, de-colonialism and post-colonialism. Fanon's "Black Skin, White Masks" (1952) was his first work, from which a few exerts are given below. For those unfamiliar with Fanon, his writing has influenced revolutionary struggles around the world and his works continue to offer valuable insight today.

  • "We are wary of being zealous. Every time we have seen it hatched somewhere it has been an omen of fire, famine, and poverty, as well as contempt for man." (p. xiii)
  • "All colonized people - in other words, people in whom an inferiority complex has taken root, whose local cultural originality has been committed to the grave - position themselves in relation to the civilizing language" (p. 2)
  • "To speak gobbledygook to a black man is insulting, for it means he is the gook. Yet, we'll be told, there is no intention to willfully give offense. OK, but it is precisely this absence of will - this offhand manner; this casualness; and the ease with which they classify him, imprison him at an uncivilized and primitive level - that is insulting." (p. 15)
  • "He's an idealist, they'll say. Not at all; it's the others who are the scumbags. I always make a point of speaking to the "towelheads" in correct French and I have always been understood. They answer as best they can, but I refuse to indulge in any form of paternalism." (p. 16)
  • "As long as the black child remains on his home ground his life follows more or less the same course as that of the white child. But if he goes to Europe he will have to rethink his life, for in France, his country, he will feel different from the rest. We said rather too quickly that the black man feels inferior. The truth is that he is made to feel inferior." (p. 127)
  • "I find myself one day in the world, and I acknowledge one right for myself: the right to demand human behavior from the other." (p. 204)
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Mapping coups d’etat in sub-Saharan Africa

Patrick McGowan analyzed planned, attempted, successful and failed coups d'etat in sub-Saharan African states from 1956-2001. Political instability during this period was much higher than other regions of the world, negatively affecting economic growth and human development. McGowan finds that the rate of success of attempted coups was higher than 40%, with an increase of attempts following a successful one.


McGowan, P. 2003. African military coups d'etat 1956-2001: Frequency, trends and distribution. Journal of Modern African Studies 41(3): 339-370.

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