Decolonizing Existentialism and Phenomenology analyzes the history of decolonial existentialist and phenomenological theory in the work of figures such as Simone de Beauvoir, Richard Wright, Franz Fanon, Lewis Gordon, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Wynter, and Jamaica Kincaid in order to reimagine and rewrite the philosophical canon. Phenomenology and existentialism study the structures of consciousness as experienced from the perspective of the subject, yet their methods have been markedly tied to the subjective lived experiences and perspectives of White Europeans and Americans. By centering the experiences of peoples of the African diaspora, gender marginalized people, and queer peoples, Africana existentialist and phenomenologist philosophers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been able to generate new frameworks for understanding structures of meaning and consciousness within oppressive colonial orders thus challenging histories of existentialism and phenomenology that bracket social markers of identity and experiences of social identity. This text represents a study of the philosophies of scholars that seek to decolonize hegemonic discourses and structures that impede the development of the selves and projects of colonized peoples.
Jina Fast is the SHIFT assistant professor of applied ethics and the common good at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dr. Fast has been published in the Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, & Social Justice, and Hypatia. As a feminist epistemologist, queer theorist, and critical philosopher of race, her work centers theories produced by and through the experiences and work of marginalized folks across disciplines.
Introduction: Decolonizing Existentialism and Phenomenology
Chapter 1: Roots of a Decolonial Feminist Philosophy: Beauvoir’s Feminist Phenomenology and Existentialism
Chapter 2: Fanon’s Phenomenological Decolonial Psychology and the Negation of Black Subjectivity
Chapter 3: Decolonizing the Paradox of Hyper-Visible Bodies, Un-visible Humanity in Wright’s Native Son and Black Boy
Chapter 4: Lewis Gordon’s Phenomenology of Racist Bad Faith
Chapter 5: Audre Lorde’s Decolonial, Queer, Black Feminist Phenomenology
Chapter 6: Sylvia Wynter and Jamaica Kincaid: Post-Colonial Feminist Approaches to Lived Experience
Conclusion: Where do Existentialism and Phenomenology Go from Here?
About the Author
Lucidly written, rigorously argued with nuance, and rich with scholarly evidence, Jina Fast’s Decolonizing Existentialism and Phenomenology is nothing short of an extraordinary metacritique of reason in existential phenomenological contexts. Skillfully avoiding pitfalls of epistemic apartheid and reductive reasoning, Fast not only addresses lacunae but also demonstrates, through careful reading, a wonderful synthesis through which a path is offered also for philosophy to be critically true to and beyond itself. A must read not only for anyone interested in Global Southern existential thought but also the complexity of what is needed to think across non-essentialist struggles for dignity and freedom.
Why is a philosophy—a domain of inquiry quintessentially associated with critical inquiry—so amenable to colonization and so difficult to decolonize? Jina Fast’s highly readable, consistently thought-provoking text engages existentialist and phenomenological writings of Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Richard Wright, Audre Lorde, Lewis R. Gordon, Sylvia Wynter, and Jamaica Kincaid to clarify what it means for knowledge and consciousness to be made free.