Prof’s Blog: Nervous Conditions
So if your read the epigraph to the novel you notice that the title is taken from Jean-Paul Sartre’s introduction to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1961). Here’s the full quote: “The status of the ‘native’ is a nervous condition introduced and maintained by the settler among colonized people with their consent.”
Fanon is probably one of the most important anti-colonial thinkers of his time. He was born in Martinique, studied medicine and psychiatry in France, worked as a psychiatrist in Algeria, and joined the Algerian independence struggle. He wrote about the psychological conditions of colonized peoples and argued that violence, in the colonial situation, was not simply physical violence but structural and institutional violence that had a negative impact on the psyches of colonized peoples.
Think about the quote above and how it relates to the novel Nervous Conditions. What do you think the part about consent is doing in there? How does this quote enable us to think about the novel in terms of the structural and institutional violence that Fanon is talking about? This is where we’ll begin our discussion tomorrow.
Also, if you are confused by any of the relations, titles, or Shona words in the novel, this is an excellent study guide: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum211/dangarembga.htm