Violence is a Cleansing Force: Frantz Fanon, the Criminological Imagination, and Blade Runner 2049

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Frantz Fanon is best known as the author of two monographs: Black Skin, White Masks (1952), a literary and psychological account of Black experience and anti-Black racism, and The Wretched of the Earth (1961), a political manifesto arguing for the need to respond to colonial oppression with revolutionary violence. His critics contend that the disciplinary division evinces a failure to successfully integrate the psychological with the political, which detracts from his intellectual legacy. In this article, I employ criminologist Jon Frauley’s theory of the analytic value of fictional film to demonstrate that Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (2017) not only provides an empirical referent for Fanon’s psychological and political theories, but reveals an underlying coherence that is not always obvious. I begin with a summary of Frauley’s theory and then alternate between Fanon’s theories and the way in which the film provides those theories with empirical referents. My conclusion, which highlights an essential continuity between individual transcendence and collective action in Fanon, draws on both Blade Runner 2049 and the military tactic of pseudo operations, which was employed to devastating effect against anti-colonial struggles in Africa in the second half of the twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Aesthetic Education
Issue number3
Early online date1 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


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