ABSTRACT

This article excavates the meaning of Fanon’s declaration against Sartre in Black Skin, White Masks, “between the white man and me the connection was irremediably one of transcendence,” which is attached to a footnote that has received little attention from Fanon’s commentators: “In the sense in which the word is used by Jean Wahl in Existence humaine et transcendence.” The goal of this article is to clarify what Wahl meant by “transcendence,” and what such a conception might tell us about Fanon’s disagreement with Sartre and his view of dialectics more broadly. Ultimately, the article shows that Wahl, following Kierkegaard, conceives of transcendence as a relationship of qualitative difference, which is constitutive of our subjectivity. It is thus this relationship of difference, of a nonreciprocal exclusion that cannot be sublated, that Fanon posits between white and Black.

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