The Wretched of the Earth

The Wretched of the Earth Glossary


The capitalist class that controls the economy of a society


A class in a society; Fanon calls the national bourgeoisie a “petty caste”


Another term for the “national bourgeoisie” who are the colonized businessmen with the most power in urban areas


Someone who connects two groups of people; Fanon pejoratively calls the national bourgeoisie an intermediary because all they do is facilitate the sale of goods from Africa to Europe

Labor union

A political organization of workers who, often through strikes, advocate for their rights and conditions as workers


In Marxism, a section of the working class that does not have class consciousness and therefore cannot participate in the revolution; in Fanon, the lumpenproletariat are instead the segment of the colonized population that, because in rural areas, has not been influenced by the colonial ideology of the cities. This lumpenproletariat actually leads the revolution, then, because they are not controlled by colonial ideology.


A worldview that strictly divides the world into two groups of people. Fanon talks about the Manichaean view of the colonist, who divides the world into the colonized and colonist, black and white, evil and good.

National consciousness

A shared sense of identity based on nation, in contrast to tribalism and sectarianism

National culture

Fanon defines national culture as the “collective thought process of a people to describe, justify, and extol the actions whereby they have joined forces and remained strong”


A literary movement in which African writers, writing in French, opposed colonialism by claiming a common racial identity for all Africans

Paroxysmal tachycardia

An unexplained rise in heartbeat, like a panic attack; Fanon finds this is one of the psychosomatic symptoms of people who have been in internment camps


A bodily or psychological disorder


A bodily symptom caused by mental factors

Puerperal psychosis

A psychiatric symptom Fanon associates with refugees, in which women experience problems or irregularities during pregnancy


Turning something into a racial matter, for instance, the racialization of culture in Négritude

Reaction disorder

A psychological problem created by a traumatic event


The tendency to pledge loyalty to a religious group instead of a larger nation.


The redirection of urges or desires into something more socially appropriate, for instance when the colonized “sublimate” their urge toward violence into dance or rituals.


The tendency to pledge loyalty to a local tribe or village instead of a larger nation.

Vocal stereotypy

A psychiatric symptom Fanon associates with torture and in which someone constantly repeats words or syllables without reasons.