Saniya Taher (University of California, Berkeley)
Fellow in Research Area 3: "Future Perfect"
April – September 2023
"Pansement", or Tending to the End of the World: On Fanonian Poetico-Political Structures of Redress
This project centres on Martinican thinker, clinician and revolutionary Frantz Fanon's (1921–1961) critical articulation of pansement – binding, or tending, in English – as a curative poetico-political structure of redress and elaborates upon it by staging a series of encounters between his psychopolitical, literary and clinical writings from 1951–1961 and postcolonial Middle Eastern and North African literary and political texts written amidst war, occupation and destruction between 1967 and 2003. Writing in light of the annihilative postcolonial conditions of exile, displacement, madness and terminal illness, these texts refuse the catastrophic foreclosure of the world while contending with the absolute violence that has forged it, undertaken through racialisation, enslavement and colonisation, and persisting with imperial and colonial domination, the failure of postcolonial nation states and relentless imperial and civil war. As such, they address the question of impossible existence by analytically and imaginatively tarrying with itineraries, temporalities and intimacies in betrayal of postcolonial national and worldly formation, thus troubling the bounds of historicity, politics and community.
In placing the Fanonian poetico-political structure of redress in the foreground, this project seeks to methodologically develop a reading practice that centres Fanon's critical psychopolitical elaboration of pansement as pharmakon. In doing so, it elaborates on the question of the cure by tending to its ruinous impasse as necessity and stages a series of returns and repetitions to articulate a multiplicity of frameworks that attempt an elucidation and a transformative engagement with the cure in light of Fanon's imprint on psychoanalysis and the postcolonial condition. At stake in this project is a resituating of Frantz Fanon and his work as belonging to the critical tradition of the Middle East and North Africa and a critical exploration of the limits, possibilities and transformations of anticolonial discourse under postcolonial conditions.
Saniya Taher is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. Her work spans Psychoanalysis, Post-Colonial Theory, Critical Theory and Black Studies, and brings together Arabophone, Anglophone and Francophone literary, political and theoretical texts from the mid-20th century to the present.