Algeria to Palestine: Frantz Fanon’s Call for a Conscious Evolution

5 min readFeb 24, 2024


By: Qudsia Saeed, MPAC Development and Communications Liaison

As liberation movements gain momentum worldwide and intersectional solidarity burgeons — the world must remember the figures of the past that offer invaluable lessons for our contemporary struggles. Frantz Fanon, an influential figure in postcolonial studies, contributed significantly to our understanding of colonialism’s nature, the psychological effects of oppression, and pathways to liberation.

Born on July 20, 1925, in Martinique, a French colony in the Caribbean, Fanon’s early experiences influenced his understanding of racial and cultural dynamics underpinning colonial systems. His journey from the Caribbean to the heart of the Algerian liberation struggle marks him as a pivotal figure whose ideas resonate far beyond his time. Fanon’s writings, notably “Black Skin, White Masks” (1952) and “The Wretched of the Earth” (1961), delve deep into the psychology of oppression and the decolonization process.

Fanon’s path to becoming a voice for the oppressed began in Martinique, where he was exposed to critical perspectives on colonialism. Moving to France to fight with the Free French forces during World War II, he encountered the paradox of fighting for freedom while subjected to racial discrimination as a soldier, highlighting the hypocrisy of colonial powers. Post-war, he pursued studies in medicine and psychiatry in France, specializing in the psychological effects of colonization, which would later become a central theme in his work.

In 1953, he moved to Algeria, where he worked in a psychiatric hospital. Algeria, then embroiled in a brutal fight for independence from French colonial rule, provided the backdrop for Fanon’s transformation from a psychiatrist to an activist and a theoretician of decolonization. Witnessing firsthand the effects of colonial violence on the Algerian psyche, Fanon’s professional observations reinforced his deterrence towards colonialism and the dehumanizing effects it had on the human consciousness. He became an outspoken supporter of the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) and actively contributed to the liberation movement against the French occupation.

The Palestinian civilian liberation movement, much like other liberation movements across the globe, finds its roots deeply embedded in the sociopolitical conditions of the time. Frantz Fanon’s analysis of colonialism and its effects on both the colonizer and the colonized offers a lens through which we can understand the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Fanon posits that when a people are systematically denied their fundamental rights and subjected to an oppressive regime, violence becomes an almost inevitable outcome. This perspective sheds light on the cycles of violence observed in the Palestinian territories, where the denial of basic rights and freedoms by an adversarial state has often led to violent forms of resistance. The context of occupation and systemic injustice serves as a breeding ground for such conflict, emphasizing the importance of addressing the root causes rather than merely the symptoms.

The path to liberation, according to Fanon, necessitates more than just the end of violence; it requires genuine cooperation and understanding between the oppressed and the oppressor. However, throughout history, the offers of cooperation extended to the Palestinian people have often come with strings attached, significantly undermining their ability to defend themselves, build a sustainable economic infrastructure, and exercise their right to self-determination. These conditional offers of cooperation have frequently been perceived as attempts to further erode Palestinian autonomy, leading to a deep mistrust between the parties involved. The struggle for Palestinian liberation, therefore, is not just a struggle against occupation but, also, for the right to define their own path to peace and prosperity without external impositions.

Understanding the Palestinian liberation movement through Fanon’s framework highlights the complexity of achieving peace in the face of longstanding occupation and systemic injustice. It suggests that any lasting solution must address the fundamental issues at the heart of the conflict: the right to self-determination, the establishment of a viable economic infrastructure, and the ability of the Palestinian people to defend themselves and their interests. Without addressing these core issues, efforts to resolve the conflict may only address the symptoms rather than the underlying causes, perpetuating a cycle of violence and oppression.

Fanon’s poignant words echo through time:

“When we revolt, it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

The stark reality unfolds before us: Palestinians confined to the open-air prison in Gaza with air strikes raining down upon them, and Black Americans enduring the brutalities of police violence, in the street and in their own homes. Both instances reflect a profound suffocation — both literal and metaphorical — of our humanity. Fanon’s emphasis on the role of intellectuals and the diaspora in the liberation struggle aligns with the efforts of Palestinian scholars and activists worldwide. Using literature, art, and academic work, they challenge colonial narratives and advocate for basic human rights, reflecting Fanon’s call for a decolonized intellectualism that supports the cause of liberation.

Despite his death from leukemia in 1961, shortly before Algeria achieved independence, Fanon’s legacy endures. His insights into the mechanisms of colonial oppression and the psychology of the colonized have continued to provoke debate on decolonization, identity, and resistance. Fanon’s work serves as a beacon for various global liberation movements, emphasizing the interconnectedness of struggles against oppression and the universal quest for dignity, justice, and self-determination.

With its complex interplay of historical, cultural, and political factors, the Palestinian struggle finds Fanon a powerful ally. His theories offer critical tools for understanding and articulating the struggle against Israeli occupation and for a future where Palestinians can achieve the self-determination and dignity they have long been denied. In the broader context of global decolonization movements, Fanon’s legacy provides a framework for imagining a world free from colonialism’s destructive impact.

Fanon’s legacy reminds us that the fight for racial equality and justice is not confined to any one country or region but is a universal challenge that requires solidarity and collective action. Fanon’s legacy, with its unyielding critique of colonialism and racism, and its call for liberation and dignity for all oppressed peoples, offers inspiration and guidance for contemporary movements for racial justice and equity.




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