Hamid Dabashi discusses his latest book, Brown Skin, White Masks, with the New Left Project:
My book is a take on Fanon’s pioneering insights in Black Skin, White Masks in a different imperial context. Fanon wrote his book in the context of the French colonial domination of Algeria and the European domination in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in general. My book is written in the context of American attempt at the imperial domination of the globe, next to which the European Union, China, and Russia posit contending forces. In these contexts, I am particularly concerned with the function of expatriate, comprador intellectuals who have moved to North America and Western Europe and are acting as native informers in the manufacturing of a sort of useful knowledge that facilitates the imperial domination of the countries from which they have immigrated.
Dabashi explains how his book is in part a critical engagement with Edward Said’s notion of the ‘exilic intellectual’:
What Edward Said, predicated on Adorno, was doing was self-theorizing himself as a force of militant defiance against the status quo and against power, precisely because he was not implicated in power relation to be one of those that he called the “ayesayers.” He thought he was a “naysayer” by virtue of being an exilic intellectual. Here I completely understand why Said celebrated his exilic condition as a marker of his oppositional stand against power. But having exposed the fact that from the selfsame site of exilic intellectuals we have far more native informers serving the imperial condition of their knowledge production than those opposing it, I categorically depart from that marginal position…
Dabashi concludes by seeing hope in the current movements for change in North Africa and the Middle East:
As you see the US and its allies are now scrambling to come to terms with the Arab Spring, which at its core is the coming to fruition of the cosmopolitan cultures of which I have written over the last three decades, and which to keep themselves in business the comprador intellectuals have denied or even ridiculed.
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For more on Hamid Dabashi visit his official website.
Dabashi picks up where Franz Fanon left off, examining the negative influence of intellectual immigrants as facilitators of American imperialism.