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Alia Al-Saji (McGill University)

The Department of Philosophy at UQAM is pleased to welcome Professor Alia Al-Saji (McGill University) who will present a lecture entitled “Making the Colonial Past Hesitate: Fanon, amputation, and a politics of refusal.”

Date: Friday, 6 October 2023, 3-5 pm

The lecture will be held in a hybrid format, both in person in room W-5215 at UQAM and simultaneously on Zoom.


In this paper, I attend to Frantz Fanon’s refusal of “amputation” in Black Skin, White Masks, a refusal that happens in the context of his experience of film. This is a site where disability/debility and racism inextricably fold together. While such disability metaphors have been problematized as ableist, “amputation” can be read, I argue, as more than a metaphor, as an expansion of what racializing debility means and the heterogeneity of its lived experiences (beyond mere lack)—making tangible the prosthetics that colonialism imposes and the range of reactions we can have to it. Engaging with disability studies, in particular Black and anticolonial theories of disability and debility, I ask how to understand racism and (dis)ability as more than parallel or analogy, how to think a debilitating colonial duration (as instanced in the duration of our pandemic time). Fanon shows how racialized bodies are worn down and eroded by colonial past and present, but he also traces a path of refusal. Deepening this, I ask what routes there may be to make hesitate colonial duration and create leeway within it (without illusions of healing or wholeness). In closing, I turn to other examples that uncover possibilities to interrupt, refuse, and intervene in colonial pasts, both now and then.

For more information, please contact Mauro Rossi (UQAM) at rossi.mauro@uqam.ca.