Dominic Coles

Header Photo: Frantz Fanon at a press conference of writers in Tunis, 1959

Across the colonized world, people resisting the oppressive forces of imperialism placed their ears against the radio receiver, attempting to decipher and decode its noisy signal. In that noise was a voice obscured; they imagined its words. It spoke of independence, of fierce protests and battles; it sang national songs and anthems. These listenings furnished a tactic which would become central to the creation of a post-colonial collective politics. Listening was a means of organizing and reclaiming a collective narrative, a history, present, and future; noise was the site in which this tactic of listening could be practiced.

Writing in 1959, Martinican psychiatrist, anti-colonial theorist, and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon, documented this listening practice as it emerged during the Algerian War of Independence.[1] In 1956, Algeria’s external revolutionary command, consisting of high-ranking, public figures, established The Voice of Algeria, a daily broadcast which transmitted news from their exiled position in Cairo. The French colonists would then locate the frequency on which The Voice of Algeria was broadcast and systematically jam the signal, rendering it noise, a practice Fanon describes as “sound-wave warfare.”[2] Within Algeria’s networks of anti-colonial activity, the radio’s noise catalyzed the creation of new forms of solidarity and subjectivity through listening to and rebroadcasting its jammed content. Mediated by each auditor’s independent interpretation of the noise, the radio would become a tactical device for revolutionary listening. In what follows, I will argue that the mode of listening Fanon documents constitutes an overcoming of the master-slave dialectic as described in Black Skin, White Masks. Insofar as the radio can function as a tactical device through which to practice this radical mode of attending to noise, we can also speculate about listening technologies at our present conjuncture. Can listening in this manner become a posture assumed and activated by the auditor in other sonic contexts? Can music itself, as listening technology, become a tactical device akin to the radio through which we can perform this specific mode of revolutionary listening?

In this essay, I will outline a broad history of noise and revolutionary listening as manifested in the contexts of both colonial India and Algeria. After a historical discussion of the radio’s strategic uses in India and Algeria’s independence movements, I will turn to the theoretical implications of this noise with a particular focus on its ability to activate imaginings of new subjectivities and solidarities within networks of anti-colonial revolutionary activity. In closing, I will assume a speculative ear directed at the cultural domain, where I will argue for a practice of musical listening that hears the noises of experimental music as a potential site through which Fanon’s tactics of listening can be experimentally deployed. In George Lewis’ Voyager and Marina Rosenfeld, Warrior Queen, and Okkyung Lee’s P.A. / Hard Love I will argue for a listening that hears new formulations of the self as offered in the work’s density, complexity, and abstraction.

On a first reading of Fanon’s theory of noise, I was struck by an imagined scene. I pictured my family in India at the time of their Independence: did they too gather around the radio, listening to its static signals, imagining what could be? What did they hope my world would look like? Did they pass this noise on to me? In the summer of 2017, I traveled to India to visit my family in the hopes of understanding their experiences with the radio during India’s Independence and to reconstruct the pieces of this imagined scene. It must be noted that there exists a substantive lack of consistent documentation of this practice as it developed in India. The carnage of Partition directly following Independence led to the destruction of swathes of archives from the time; additionally, any documentation that may have been underway would’ve been halted at least temporarily in reaction to the widespread tumult. A long-term recovery effort throughout India has only recently led to the collection of these stories, primarily through a combination of anecdotal documentation and archival research. My account of this listening practice as it developed in India largely relies on these recent efforts as well as my own interviews with family members and close community members who lived through the Independence movement, many of whom were young children at the time. These attempts at documentation do not do justice to the practice in all its detail and complexity. Between colonial Algeria and India, however, we will encounter many similarities in the radio’s history of implementation, reception, and finally transformation from colonial apparatus of control into revolutionary technology. These two histories, placed alongside one another, gesture towards a broader practice of anti-colonial listening that attempts to create linkages between disparate revolutionary movements by way of sound and audition.

The Voice of Fighting Algeria

In Algeria, the radio was initially introduced into the colonial landscape as a means of disseminating colonial ideals, culture, and propaganda. Fanon writes: “Radio-Alger, the French broadcasting station which has been established in Algeria for decades, a re-edition or an echo of the French National Broadcasting System operating in Paris, is essentially the instrument of colonial society and its values.”[3] With unchecked control of the information disseminated on Radio-Alger, the French hoped to bolster its colonial authority. Native Algerians, however, did not initially take up the radio, though Fanon makes clear that this was not an organized form of resistance to the device. Rather, he cites a combination of “a dull absence of interest in that piece of French presence,” along with Algerian “traditions of respectability,” which made the French entertainment broadcasts unacceptable for consumption within the domestic sphere.[4]

Instead, French expatriates in Algeria primarily adopted the radio.[5] For the European listener, these broadcasts served three crucial functions in maintaining the spirit of the colonial mission. Firstly, the introduction of the radio signaled to the colonizer that progress was occurring in the development of Algerian infrastructure. This in turn reconfirmed the sense of a historic French domination over the Algerian land. As Fanon writes: “It [the radio]... gives him the feeling that colonial society is a living and palpitating reality, with... its progress, its taking root... Radio-Alger is a confirmation of the settler’s right and strengthens his certainty in the historic continuity of the conquest, hence of his farm.”[6] This reassertion of French dominance through regular radio broadcasting confirmed for the European listener the necessity of French colonial rule and produced a sense of safety for the settler. Fanon also notes that for European settlers not inhabiting the cities, the radio served as a link to the metropolis, namely Algiers and, crucially, the French homeland. For these settlers, the radio “ one of the means of escaping the inert, passive, and sterilizing pressure of the ‘native’ environment.”[7]

Further, the broadcasts served to reinforce the boundaries between the colonizer’s culture and native Algerian culture, insofar as the radio, “...sustains the occupant’s culture, marks it off from the non-culture, from the nature of the occupied. Radio-Alger, for the settler, is a daily invitation not to ‘go native,’ not to forget the rightfulness of his culture.”[8] Each broadcast reasserted the primacy of French culture, signaling its difference from the native culture. This was accomplished through a highly curated broadcasting regiment that celebrated both the loftiest and the most mundane of traditional French cultural offerings. These French language programs included radio dramas, concerts, sports matches, lectures on wine making, literature and cinema, as well as hours of recorded music.[9] With Algeria’s expanding Muslim middle class, a selection of “politically safe,” programming was developed by the Bureau of Native Affairs, representing a tenth of the weekly broadcast schedule. These programs consisted primarily of concerts which featured Arabic-language recordings or live performances by Algerian musicians.[10]

Despite slow uptake on the part of native Algerians, Radio-Alger was a site of contention from the moment of its first broadcasts.[11] A formal complaint was even filed by the Assemblées Financières, an organization akin to colonial parliament, and a group of native journalists in which they made a series of demands for reforms to Radio-Alger. These included the removal of racist representations of Arabs in the station’s programming, offerings in Dialectical Arabic, and increased programming of broadcasts intended for native Algerian audiences.[12]

Concurrently, paranoia regarding Algerian listening habits and radio consumption mounted within the French colonial administration. In 1935, escalating fears around the radio’s application to anti-colonial efforts, and in particular the foreign dissemination of anti-French propaganda transmitted from Germany and Italy, instigated then Governor-General, Jules Carde, to construct a surveillance web. Carde hoped to document and investigate Algerian radio listening habits, compile a list of every Algerian owned radio through the Algerian Postal Administration’s records of the annual Radio License Fee and to begin infiltrating the Café Maure which often boasted in-house radios and gramophones for patrons.[13] These cafés were understood as hotbeds for nationalist and communist politics; increased policing sought to understand and control the ways in which the radio would be encountered within them. Within the sonic space of the Café Maure we can begin to trace the radio’s transformation from colonial apparatus into a device through which revolutionary listening tactics and social modes of audition could be practiced.

In these early days of Algerian radio, prior to The Voice of Algeria’s first transmissions, however, native Algerian interest in the radio and the broadcasts of Radio-Alger was minimal. Instead, radios were primarily used as a speaker system through which gramophone records could be played. These records were the result of an expanding market in the Middle East and represented a medium through which emergent forms of revolutionary listening could be practiced and developed. In a report to the Bureau of Native Affairs by Bachagha Smati, an Algerian spy, he described the:

elaborate codes of hidden meaning through which simple words became ‘declamation on the beauty and charm of the oriental countries.’ Polemical phrases such as ‘my country’ (biladi), or ‘homeland’ (al watan) recurred in song lyrics while Arabic spoken-word recordings featured hadith and phrases from the Qur’an…

This attention to language across dialects was an early attempt to establish a collectively constructed, unified Arab identity and political identity:

the transnational Arabic-language record industry offered Maghribi performers a new political vocabulary lifted from Middle Eastern Arabic dialects and the Arab nationalist press, fostering the emergence of hybrid musical genres that in their turn contributed to the emergence of modern standard Arabic.[14]

These records became sites through which emergent forms of revolutionary listening could be practiced and through which collective conceptions of Arab and Algerian could be constructed. Additionally, the type of listening these records furnished was a socially contingent one that laid the groundwork for the social modes of audition to come. The specific social nature of this listening was captured by the Chief of Police of Blida. He wrote: “Yesterday evening… one of my native inspectors surprised the owner of a Café Maure in the process of playing several records of nationalist propaganda.” As the inspector seized the records, “consumers picked up the refrains of the chorus,” which Scales suggests, “[confirms] that broadcast sound, whether surfacing from phonograph or radio speakers, had become the soundtrack to anti-colonial resistance.”[15] These customers are not passive; in their singing, they are transformed into cognizant political actors: the radio’s sounds were already transforming into a tactical device for revolutionary activity.

Following the Philippeville Massacre in 1955, the National Liberation Front (FLN) moved to deploy guerilla tactics in urban centers. Created in 1954, the FLN was formed by a group of young Algerian militants known as the Comité Révolutionnaire d’Unité et d’Action (CRUA). In the face of divisions between different factions, the establishment of the FLN sought to consolidate a single revolutionary body to fight against French colonialism. By 1956, the majority of these factions had joined the FLN which had reconstituted itself to resemble a provisional government consisting of executive and legislative branches.

The FLN’s shift in battle tactics expanded the reach of their combat: violence was no longer to be solely directed towards military and government targets, but would rather include any targets understood to be in conflict with Algerian Independence. With this strategic shift and the ensuing brutal crackdown by French colonial authorities, Algerians felt the necessity of an expanded news network consisting of non-French sources. As Fanon writes: “The Algerian who read in the occupier’s face the increasing bankruptcy of colonialism felt the compelling and vital need to be informed.”[16] Fanon notes the issues posed by printed media given Algeria’s widespread illiteracy in Arabic, which fostered a reliance on French prints and publications.[17] These issues of access to printed media coupled with a widespread mistrust of French news sources created the need for independent forms of dissemination. The radio’s elusive character also offered Algerian combatants a clandestine means of participating in revolutionary activities. This was emphasized by the French agent Delahaye in a training for officers in the Bureau of Native Affairs: “The radio broadcast has liberated itself from the ties that bind the written word… crossing the most protected borders, the most firmly closed doors, and the thickest walls… nothing can stop it except jamming.”[18] The radio presented a possibility, and as such the acquisition of a radio set became the primary means of obtaining news from non-French sources.[19] Thus in 1956, the FLN’s external leadership established the broadcast The Voice of Algeria,[20] which transmitted each day from Cairo with the purpose of broadcasting radical, revolutionary news to the masses.

If we are to establish a context for the social act of reconstructing the jammed message, it is essential to know what kinds of content would have been encountered on The Voice of Algeria. The two primary goals of these broadcasts were the ideological unification of the country under a uniquely constructed historical concept of a single Algerian fatherland as well as the strategic amelioration of internal divisions within disparate combat groups. In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks established what are essentially the modern borders of Algeria while maintaining a segmented network of traditional tribal governmental structures.[21] This political entity, however, was disassembled by the French and replaced by a series of unified administrative bureaus which reported to the governor-general who oversaw the colony as a whole.[22] The French, in dissolving the traditionally segmented construction of Algeria’s tribal governments, created a unified Algerian political formation and laid the groundwork for future forms of organization between disparate political, tribal, and revolutionary entities - entities that would go on to form the FLN. As a result of these various intersecting and overlapping political, juridical, and military regimes, many Algerians did not feel part of a conceptually or historically unified country, resulting in an initial reticence to join in anti-colonial activity. In their attempts to overthrow the French and establish a unified Algerian nation, tensions arose as combatants attempted to overcome their lack of shared history. Thus, there was an internal need to establish a unified concept of an Algerian past on which to construct or “assume the new national formulation,”[23] leading to the strategic deployment of the radio for this purpose.

The second purpose of these broadcasts was the amelioration of internal divisions between geographically disparate revolutionary combatants. The FLN realized that increased cooperation and coordination would be required between the external leadership, which consisted of highly ranking, public revolutionary figures that oversaw the large-scale plans for battles and attacks from their exiled positions in Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, and the internal forces which resided in Algeria and largely carried out the commands of the external forces. There was consistent conflict between these internal and external groups; the radio broadcasts sought to smooth over those divisions, unifying both internal and external forces in the shared hopes of an independent Algeria.[24]

With these ideological, practical, military and memorial valences of the radio in mind, it is not an exaggeration to speak of “sound-wave warfare.”[25] Contested by French colonial authorities from the moment of its first broadcast, The Voice of Algeria was systematically detected and jammed, often rendering the broadcasts themselves into noise. Listeners would remain, with a single interpreter, ear fixed to the radio, tuning the dial in the hopes of finding the broadcast on a new frequency, only for it to inevitably be jammed again. The interpreter would relay fragments of the broadcasts to those gathered and listening, but they were largely indecipherable. This was not a hindrance: common consent, after an exchange of views, it would be decided that the Voice had in fact spoken of these events, but that the interpreter had not caught the transmitted information. A real task of reconstruction would then begin. Everyone would participate, and the battles of yesterday and the day before would be re-fought in accordance with the deep aspirations and the unshakable faith of the group. The listener would compensate for the fragmentary nature of the news by an autonomous creation of information.[26]

This moment of “autonomous creation,” of imagining what might have been said, what information may have been conveyed, is necessarily enmeshed with the socially contingent process of reconstructing the obscured content of these broadcasts. Fanon goes on to detail an extreme version of this practice, wherein the gathered listeners are no longer able to locate or identify the Voice at all. He writes that:

the listener would sometimes leave the needle on a jammed wavelength or one that simply produced static, and would announce that the voice of the combatants was here. For an hour the room would be filled with the piercing, excruciating din of the jamming. Behind each modulation, each active crackling, the Algerian would imagine not only words, but concrete battles.[27]

This noise, this active crackling, translates revolutionary combat into sound, to be developed and molded by the auditor’s own interpretive and imaginative processes as they emerged within the listening context of this anti-imperial revolution. In what follows, I will detail the emergence of this practice within India’s Independence movement and subsequently will further investigate the transformative role of noise as a catalyst for the creation of new forms of solidarity and subjectivity within Algeria and India’s revolutionary communities.[28]

Free India Radio & the Congress Radio

Colonial Indian radio was established in 1927 with the first broadcast taking place on the 23rd of July in what was known as Bombay.[29] The project, heralded by some British overseers as a “ application of science,”[30] and as a “blessing,”[31] was also met with fear and skepticism by colonial administrators who understood technology’s ability to foment anti-colonial sentiment and activity. The introduction of the railway, the telegraph, and uniform postage in the 1850s catalyzed early Indian nationalisms insofar as the improved transportation and communications infrastructure allowed latent ideas to spread and develop into cohesive political movements.[32] It is not a coincidence that these rapid technological and infrastructural improvements of the early 1850s were followed by the Mutiny of 1857, at the time one of the largest revolts against British rule on the Indian subcontinent. Thus, memories of violence, resistance, and technology were fresh in the colonist’s minds as they introduced the radio, the first broadcast of which coincidentally occurred on the seventieth anniversary of the 1857 uprisings.

These fears, however, were put aside in light of two larger political goals on the part of the British colonists: the amelioration of internal political divisions within India and the opportunity for large-scale control of information and its dissemination. These goals, necessarily linked, had already proved effective within Europe on the introduction of the radio. As Partha Sarathi Gupta notes:

Monopolistic control of information strengthens the authority of those in power... In the 1920s the Indian scene was characterized by social unrest and political agitation. Europe showed that the broadcasting medium could be used by Fascist Italy to manufacture an illusion of political consensus and by the Soviet Union to broadcast revolutionary messages through the length and breadth of the former Tsarist Empire. In Britain itself radio came to the aid of the ruling circles during the nine-day General Strike in May 1926.[33]

The benefits of a widespread broadcasting system were abundantly clear to the British: with total control over the content and its dissemination, unity, consensus and public approval of colonial measures were easily manufactured. The lukewarm reception of this new technology in Algeria was similarly reproduced in the Indian reception of the radio. Met with distrust, skepticism, and disinterest, the radio was primarily taken up by European expatriates within India.

As civil unrest mounted and the movement towards Independence coalesced, the British government began to actively suppress and censor radio broadcasts. In 1937, all overt political content was banned from All India Radio with the specific goal of removing Gandhi, Nehru, and the Congress Party from the airwaves, fearing that they would incite revolution.[34] This blanket ban on political content, coupled with increased tensions between India’s elected officials, revolutionary organizations,[35] and the British throughout the 1940s, saw the establishment of two alternative forms of anti-imperialist Indian broadcasting: the Congress Radio[36] and Azad Hind Radio. Free India Radio, or Azad Hind Radio, began broadcasting in 1940 from various locations within Germany, but primarily in Berlin,[37] and was the work of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian nationalist with links to both Nazi Germany and Vichy France. Materially underwritten by the Nazi government, Azad Hind Radio was employed as a means of weakening British colonial rule and destabilizing Indian political life by increasing native resistance and eroding public approval of the war efforts.[38]

The Congress Radio, on the other hand, was established by Usha Mehta, a Gandhian activist and student. Following the All India Congress Committee’s inauguration of the Quit India Movement and the subsequent arrests of Gandhi, Nehru, and many other high ranking Congress Party officials, Mehta and her associates came to the radio as a vehicle for maintaining what was essentially rendered a leaderless movement.[39] Mehta’s Congress Radio was established on the 26th of August 1942, with the express purpose of disseminating anti-colonial news and sustaining the Quit India movement following the mass arrests of its leaders. In a 1969 interview, Mehta described the necessity of the radio as a means to widely transmit information regarding the resistance cause. Echoing Fanon, she stated: “When the press is gagged and all news is banned, our transmitter certainly helps a good deal in furnishing the public with the facts... and in spreading the message of rebellion.”[40] The radio, initially met with mistrust by Indian listeners, was soon broadly taken up as a primary medium of receiving and transmitting anti-imperialist news, messages, and information.

As with the radio’s application in the Algerian revolutionary context, the Congress Radio was subject to sporadic British jamming.[41] Unlike The Voice of Algeria which broadcasted from outside of the country, Mehta’s broadcasts took place in what was known as Bombay and were thus very quickly traced by the British, requiring the revolutionaries to frequently shift broadcasting locations. Despite the jamming and regular changes in the location of the transmitter, Mehta and her associates were consistently able to broadcast, “recordings of the Mahatmas’ sermons and his calls for non-violence, uncensored news, [and] pro-independence music.”[42] When the signal became unclear, gathered listeners would scan the radio’s dial, searching for an alternate broadcast, whether from Germany or Italy, broadcasting Azad Hind Radio, or the BBC’s own broadcasts so as to compare the various reports of Indian Independence to what was heard on Azad Hind or the Congress Radio. Speaking of these noisy, distorted signals, Auntie Roshan[43], the mother of a close family friend said:

...our parents and all with very anxious faces used to sort of stick to it and try to hear what was going on there. And we as young children used to wonder what was in this crackling noise: ‘crack crack crack crack,’ it used to go on...

This speaks to Fanon’s moment of imagining, of wondering what lies beneath the noise: what is the content of the signal, and in its obscured form what content do you the auditor alternatively supplement?

Violence and Liberation

Attending to noise in this way, wherein an alternate signal is imagined and supplemented by the auditor, offers us, to borrow a term from Ian Baucom, a “device of listening.” For Fanon, this listening device facilitates the construction of a post-colonial politics rooted in a network of affinity between listeners. The radio’s noisy, jammed signal acted as a medium through which the auditor’s anti-imperial politics were assembled, in turn amplified and modulated by the noise and by each individual’s unique hearing of meaning and non-meaning as embedded within it. Listening in this manner becomes a generative activity insofar as each listener constructs and then rebroadcasts or shares their imagining of a post-colonial future with those other gathered listeners. In this practice, noise becomes a site for the construction of new Algerian, Indian, and more broadly postcolonial subjectivities and solidarities.

In The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon details the pitfalls of a consciousness rooted in nationalism; a consciousness which he understands as reinscribing imperialism rather than facilitating liberation.[44] Within the confines of this consciousness, Fanon argues that anti-colonial struggle would see the colonizer replaced with a native ruler who fills, with the same severity, the exact same structures of governance developed under imperial rule.

How then is a shift in consciousness made from one based in nationalist independence to one centered on liberation? For Fanon, violence acts as a bridge between white and non-white, that in violence is “the synthesis that overcomes the reification of white man as subject, Black man as object.”[45] I will argue that the “listening device,” as it translates revolutionary combat into and through the radio’s jammed signals, stages the violence required by Fanon to achieve the reciprocal recognition between subject and object, and thus its suspension. In this process, the work of rebroadcasting, sharing, translating, and mistranslating each auditor’s independent interpretation of the noise allows for the collective construction of new forms of subjectivity. It is in this moment that each auditor becomes the real subject of production, a communal labor which fashions “new and general collectivities”[46] between individual listeners and broadcasters.

The basis for this argument derives from Fanon’s reading of the master-slave dialectic, a key passage in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. In this passage, Hegel describes the process by which an independent self-consciousness is achieved. Within this idealist formulation, two individuals encounter one another, each with the desire to assert their self-certainty. This assertion is made through the attempted destruction of the other consciousness; thus, each consciousness risks its life in an attempt to kill the other. If either or both consciousnesses die during the course of this struggle, the possibility of recognition is foreclosed. In Hegel’s formulation, one consciousness surrenders to the other so as to avoid death as it “values its life more than its status as the sole authority.”[47] The surrendering consciousness becomes the slave and the other the master. In this relationship the master depends on the slave for both their material needs as well as their need to be recognized as an independent consciousness. Through their labor, the slave, however, achieves a new consciousness no longer reliant on the master for recognition. Having posited themself in place of the object on which they work, the slave now exists on their own account and recognizes the master’s dependence, lack of power over the world of things, and their only apparent self-sufficiency.

In an influential historico-anthropological reading of the dialectic by Alexander Kojève, the Hegelian slave is understood as an analog for the worker under capitalism; and for Kojève, this passage suggests that the slave, and thus the worker, holds an advantage over the master. In Hegel’s formulation, if labor and the cultivation of the natural and material world allows the slave to become an independent being, the proletariat similarly must achieve their freedom from class domination through the realization that they are the real subject of production.[48] For Kojève, this would require the proletariat to act on this realization; through class struggle the proletariat can force the ruling class to recognize their status as independent beings.

In Fanon’s reading, however, Kojève’s interpretation of the dialectic doesn’t map onto the colonial structure of domination so neatly. For Fanon, the colonial subject is only worthy of recognition insofar as they will risk their life to attain said recognition. While the subject might receive recognition from the colonist without participating in violent struggle, they won’t be able to realize themself as worthy of this recognition. Fanon argues that the black colonial subject experiences a juridical freedom for which they did not have to engage in violent struggle to achieve - their recognition, as a result, is incomplete and manifests only formally as the law. As such, Fanon suggests that they are less likely to struggle for recognition. Juridical freedom is thus a barrier to “black worth and black self-recognition.”[49] As Fanon writes:

one day the white master recognized without a struggle the black slave… The black man did not become a master. When there are no more slaves, there are no masters. The black man is a slave who was allowed to assume a master’s attitude. The white man is a master who allowed his slaves to eat at his table.[50]

Fanon brings our attention to the slave’s assumption of the master’s attitude, the result of the psychological distortion inflicted by their subjection under colonialism. The slave, instead of imagining, creating, and living by their self-determined values, takes on those of the master. While the master determines and abides by their own norms, the colonized subject instead only recognizes the authority of white, colonial values, without an assertion of their own autonomy and authority.[51] In this sense, the colonial subject is less independent than the Hegelian slave: “For Hegel, the slave turns away from the master and turns toward the object. Here the slave turns toward the master and abandons the object.”[52]

For Fanon, it is only in violent struggle that a reciprocal recognition can be achieved: the colonial subject must prove to themself their own worth through this struggle. As Brandon Hogan notes in a study of Fanon’s engagement with Hegel, Fanon does concede that black subjects have fought for their liberty and justice, but for Fanon, these struggles have been for, “white liberty and white justice… for values secreted by masters.”[53] Instead, the colonial subject must prove to themself that they value their own ideals of autonomy and liberation through the struggle of decolonization. As Hogan writes:

Decolonization, for Fanon, creates ‘new men,’ men who are free because they have overcome the domination and dehumanization that is colonialism and because they have learned to govern themselves by values of their own creation. In doing so, the colonized break from the slavery represented by white values and embrace a form of mastery that comes from generating values of their own.[54]

In order to liberate oneself under colonialism, the slave, through revolutionary struggle, must create and imagine their own set of values in anithesis to those of the master. For Fanon, it is in revolutionary struggle that the colonial subject achieves recognition of their own self-consciousness and in doing so overcomes the master-slave dialectic.

A Tactic of Listening

Ian Baucom’s essay, Frantz Fanon's Radio: Solidarity, Diaspora, and the Tactics of Listening, proceeds from a single question: why is it that within colonial Algeria, the near universal experience of listening to radio static was attributed positive characteristics; essentially, why did anyone want to listen to the radio’s noise? More specifically, one might wonder why the radio’s jammed signal drew Fanon’s ear? What was this noise for him as a listener? One way in which to understand Fanon’s relationship to noise is through his work in the psychoanalytic clinic, wherein the patient’s unconscious is largely mediated by their verbal noise - through their slips of tongue, unintended word choices, and other ruptures in signification.

Since its inception, psychoanalysis has been deeply attuned to the listening act. As Sigmund Freud writes:

The analyst must bend his own unconscious like a receptive organ toward the transmitting unconscious of the patient. He must adjust himself to the patient as a telephone receiver is adjusted to the transmitting microphone. Just as the received transmutes the electrical oscillations induced by the sound waves back again into sound waves, so is the physician’s unconscious mind able to reconstruct the patient’s unconscious. . .[55]

Listening has always been the analyst’s primary tool. In their listening, the analyst maintains a “free-floating attention” which “consists simply in not directing one’s notice to anything in particular… in the face of all that one hears.”[56] This evenly suspended listening position is one that seeks to take in and store all the information conveyed by the analysand during treatment.

I wonder if some aspect of the radio’s noise activated Fanon’s clinical ears, creating a connection between that space and the domestic one. Within the psychoanalytic framework, a generative interpretation is constructed through attention to the various ways in which the unconscious is mediated through the analysand’s verbal noise, through their slips of tongue, aberrations in speech patterns and phrasing, as well as unusual or unintended word choices.[57] Within the domestic space of Fanon’s communal listeners, the radio’s disruption of a positive signal creates the conditions wherein the gathered listeners can begin to perform a kind of collective self-analysis, transplanting their own fantasies, desires, and drives onto the obscured voice of the radio. Thus, a generative interpretation is constructed through attention to the various ways in which parts of one's own unconscious, transferred to the radio, are mediated through its noise before being taken up by the larger group for further discussion and deliberation.

This listening tactic itself seems to point back to the clinical strategies Fanon and his mentor, François Tosquelles, the founder of Institutional Psychotherapy, developed at the hospital of Saint-Alban. In Institutional Psychotherapy, or socialthérapie as Fanon called it, emphasis was placed on the interaction of the psychic and the social as simultaneously contributing to alienation.[58] Camille Robcis writes that, “In this context, psychiatry was necessarily political and the hospital could provide a space to ‘disalienate’ the mind.”[59] Treatment in Institutional Psychotherapy emphasizes the dynamic, interpersonal effects of transference, wherein the patient’s feelings about a parent or other primary relationship are transferred onto the analyst. Fanon and Tosquelles, in their treatment, understood the movement of these feelings as more complex than the unidirectional relay from patient to analyst and instead sought to implicate both the analyst and the analysand in an egalitarian alliance directed at disalienation. Their hope was to transform the clinic into “a healing collective. . . the knot of social relations, the site of production of ‘disalienating’ forces,”[60] that would allow the patients, doctors, and staff to “transform this impersonal abstract multitude into a coherent group animated by collective concerns.”[61]

Fanon’s understanding of the master-slave dialectic was similarly conditioned by his clinical work. As previously discussed, Fanon argues that the black colonial subject cannot adhere to the norms of their own choosing. This creates a devaluation of the colonial subject’s independent norms and values - they are seen as inferior to those of the master.[62] A further psychological distortion is inflicted by the lack of recognition the master offers the colonial subject. As Fanon writes:

For Hegel there is reciprocity; here the master scorns the consciousness of the slave. What he wants from the slave is not recognition, but work. Likewise, the slave here can in no way be equated with the slave who loses himself in the object and finds the source of his liberation in his work. The black slave wants to be like his master.[63]

The lack of recognition on the part of the master and the devaluation of the colonial subject’s internal self-worth causes a psychological distortion in which the slave posits themself in the place of the master rather than in the objects of their creativity, those objects on which they work, as the slave does in Hegel’s formulation. This colonial pathology, which manifests as an unconscious desire to become or resemble the white master, forecloses the possibility of a violent struggle necessary to produce a reciprocal recognition. Using Baucom’s analysis, however, we can begin to trace the suspension of the master-slave dialectic instead through the tactics of listening that Fanon describes.

First, Fanon tells us that the radio’s noise served to transform the domestic space into a site of combat and struggle, with the listeners transformed into “vicarious combatants.”[64] Fanon writes that:

[t]he listener, enrolled in the battle of the waves, had to figure out the tactics of the enemy, and in an almost physical way circumvent the strategy of the adversary... The war of the sound waves... reenacts for the benefit of the citizen the armed clash of his people and colonialism.[65]

The listener, posed against the advanced technology of the French colonist’s jamming systems, is engaged in a sonic battle that mirrors the one taking place on the battlefields throughout Algeria. Listening to the noise while fighting to hear and receive the broadcasts becomes an alternative form of struggle against the French and additionally transforms the home into a space of combat against colonial rule. We can understand this as the first phase of the master-slave dialectic, in which a struggle for reciprocal recognition is initiated. The native Algerian, subjugated by the colonist’s violence, a violence which precedes the struggle for recognition, then uses the radio to reenact the struggles of the battlefields, and thus actively takes part in the revolutionary activities. As Fanon writes: “ [listening to the radio] was above all the occasion to proclaim one’s clandestine participation in the essence of the Revolution.”[66]

In Kojève’s reading of the master-slave dialectic, he stresses the personal risk needed to initiate recognition, writing that, “ speak of the ‘origin’ of Self-Consciousness is necessarily to speak of the risk of life... [putting] the life of the other in danger—in order to be ‘recognized’ by the other.”[67] Owning a radio and listening to the revolutionary broadcasts constituted an act of great personal risk: the purchasing of radios and batteries by native Algerians had been made illegal without a proper license and was thus punishable by imprisonment. The very jamming of these broadcasts, however, indicates a recognition by the other, namely the colonist. Listening in this capacity thus constituted an initiation of struggle insofar as the reenacted violence on the part of the combatant, this ”war of the sound waves,”[68] came with great personal risk, and was subsequently recognized by the colonist’s jamming networks as a threat and attack on French colonial sovereignty.

Baucom suggests, however, that there is more to Fanon’s noise than a “sympathetic identification” of the listener with the revolutionaries present on the Algerian battlefields. Rather, he stresses that it is the need to share and retransmit the broadcasts as imagined through the noise which is crucial to the establishment of new subjectivities and solidarities within the group.[69] Fanon writes:

A real task of reconstruction would then begin. Everyone would participate, and the battles of yesterday and the day before would be re-fought in accordance with the deep aspirations and the unshakable faith of the group. The listener would compensate for the fragmentary nature of the news by an autonomous creation of information... the whole nation would snatch fragments of sentences in the course of the broadcast and attach to them a decisive meaning... Every Algerian, for his part, broadcast and transmitted the new language.[70]

Here, Fanon stresses the generative reality of The Voice in its fragmented form. Given The Voice’s obscured quality, the listener reconstructed what was heard, not in an attempt to reproduce the broadcast, but rather to “...refashion the broadcast in their own images, lend[ing] their voices to fill in the silence in The Voice.”[71] The listeners gathered and shared their interpretations, their imaginings of a post-colonial future as heard through the noise, a process Baucom calls “acoustic translation.”[72]

This acoustic translation constitutes the final phase of Fanon’s understanding of the master-slave dialectic, the phase in which it is overcome. The colonized subject turns away from the master and instead begins a process of creative production directed at their own subjectivity, a kind of radical self-fashioning performed at the level of the individual and the collective. This process is catalyzed by the struggle enacted through listening to the jammed signals, through the listener’s participation in the sound-wave warfare against the French colonists.

In sharing their individual hearings and thus emphasizing divergent translations of The Voice, listeners, though unified by the act of listening, construct a subject that resists homogenization by emphasizing their differences in interpretation. As Baucom writes: “...the listening practices of everyday life permit the subject not simply to resist massification but to construct a collective politics that manages to retain room for the individual’s uniqueness.”[73] Emerging from each hearing is an individualized vision of the future, of words spoken, and battles fought which emphasizes the importance of an independent interpretation of the noise. As Baucom writes, “[Fanon] is describing a complex labor in which subjects are at once gatherers and scatterers of the narratives of identity to which their ears are tuned; he is describing a process in which the collective identity of the listening group cohabits with each interpreter’s difference.”[74] For Fanon, listening becomes a tactic with which to construct a politics of solidarity that uniquely emphasizes the presence and the importance of the individual within a unified mass. As Baucom reiterates: “...for Fanon listening is not about passing. And it is not about becoming.”[75] Instead, he suggests that Fanon’s tactics of listening are a practice of creative production, oriented towards the productive aspect of the auditor’s independent interpretations of the noise. Listening, he writes:

[I]s, instead, about making—a ‘techne’ rather than an ontology. Listening and hence solidarity are not about ‘being alike’ or even ‘hearing alike,’ but about differentially ‘hearing the like’ or, indeed, mishearing the like. As a tactical practice of listening Fanonian solidarity is an interpretive and misinterpretive procedure in which a common canon of referents... provides the collective point of reference for a heterogeneous interpretive and misinterpretive community.[76]

This techne, a listening practice that makes and molds new subjectivities, amounts to the overcoming of the master-slave dialectic. As listeners begin work constructing new definitions and forms of the self we can understand that they have fundamentally turned away from the master and begun a process of radical imagining that seeks to implement their own proper values in the world. Materially, this act of revolutionary listening advanced a shared conception of a politically and strategically unified Algerian identity during the anti-colonial struggle. The process of imagining, interpreting, and deliberating around the radio’s static signals constructed forms of solidarity and affinity across disparate networks of listeners that contributed to the overall unification of both discrete revolutionary combat groups as well as more broadly to a unitary conception of both a postcolonial Algerian and Indian subject. The radio’s jammed signal allows the auditor to reenact the struggles of the battlefield, initiating the violence needed to catalyze a recognition from the other, a recognition which is in fact constituted by said jammed signal. And with the complete loss of a positive, semantic signal via the radio’s broadcast, the colonized listener turns away from the master and begins the work of creatively producing a new, postcolonial subjectivity at the level of the individual listener and the collective group.

Musical Noise?

I am a composer, and as such, my ears consistently find their way back to music. Not all listening practices are musical: they may have been developed for other purposes and emerged within a context that was not an aesthetic one. A listening practice, however, is a posture or position that can be assumed by the auditor. In this case, I find myself wondering about the listening tactics described above. Might the musical listener be able to treat contemporary music itself as a “listening device” akin to the radio described by Fanon? In assuming this posture, what might emerge from a listening practice that engages musical noise as a site for revolutionary imaginings by individual and collective groups of auditors? What musics might open themselves to this kind of listening? With this speculative turn towards culture, I hope to suggest that listeners can use music, in its complexity and abstraction, as a site for the construction of new selves, solidarities, and affinities between listeners. I will discuss two musical works that open themselves to the listening tactic described: George Lewis’s Voyager and Marina Rosenfeld, Warrior Queen, and Okkyung Lee’s P.A. / Hard Love.

George Lewis’s musical work Voyager is a “nonhierarchical, interactive musical environment that privileges improvisation.”[77] Voyager was programmed between 1986 and 1988 at the Studio for Elektro-Instrumentale Muziek in Amsterdam and uses the programming language Forth, designed by Charles Moore. Lewis asserts that the technical and performative work of Voyager is best understood as a practice of “computer music-making embodying African-American cultural practice.”[78]

How exactly does the Voyager system function? At the surface level, Voyager generates multiple streams of music that are simultaneously running in parallel, though not necessarily sounding simultaneously. The system uses 64 asynchronously operating MIDI controlled voices which generate their own stream of music in real-time. Lewis classifies these 64 divergent streams of music as “sonic behavior groups,”[79] which can be activated simultaneously, changed between, and are capable of “moving in and out of metric synchronicity, with no necessary arithmetic correlation between the strongly discursive layers of multirhythm.”[80] At a lower level, the program runs a routine which analyzes incoming MIDI data from a maximum of two performers who either perform on MIDI keyboards or with acoustic instruments. When performing with acoustic instruments, a pitch tracker is used so as to parse their input into appropriate MIDI data streams for Voyager. Lewis emphasizes the sonic and structural multiplicity of his system, writing that, “The Voyager program often combines dense, rapid accretions of sonic information with sudden changes of mood, tempo and orchestration, eschewing the slowly moving timbral narratives characteristic of much institutionally based computer music.”[81]

For Lewis, these alternating possibilities of timbre, pitch, rhythm, and form are indicative of an aesthetics of “multidominance.”[82] First discussed by Robert L. Douglas in his attempts to theorize an African-American aesthetic in visual and sonic arts, Lewis takes up this idea of “multidominant elements,”[83] which involves “the multiple use of colors in intense degrees, or the multiple use of textures, design patterns, or shapes.”[84] Douglas reminisces about his time in art school and the reactions of his various mentors to this aesthetic as manifested in his work, writing that he frequently received the instruction to, “tone down your colors, too many colors.”[85] He emphasizes that this reaction was regarded by his mentors as, “somehow universal and transcendent, rather than as emanating from a particular culturally or historically situated worldview, or as based in networks of political or social power.”[86] Proceeding from the realm of visual arts, Douglas discusses this same phenomenon as it emerges in musical pedagogy, writing that, “Eurocentric music training. . . does not equip its students to hear music with multidominant rhythmic and melodic elements as anything but ‘noise,’ ‘frenzy,’ or perhaps ‘chaos.’”[87] This interpretation of multidominant elements as noise is not only encountered within the realm of pedagogy, but has historical roots in the reception of many African-American artistic practices on the part of white audiences. Lewis notes the work of historian Jon Cruz who writes that, “Prior to the mid-19th Century black music appears to have been heard by captors and overseers primarily as noise—that is, as strange, unfathomable, and incomprehensible.”[88] Cruz goes on to identify the conditions for interpretation that would’ve led the slave owner to hear only noise, writing that it would necessitate one “being oblivious to the structures of meaning that anchored sound to the hermeneutic world of slaves...” and to remain, “removed from how slave soundings probed their circumstances and cultivated histories and memories.”[89]

George Lewis’ Voyager seeks to reclaim this “noise,” centering an aesthetics of sonic multidominance, “at the levels of both the logical structure of the software and its performative articulation.”[90] Lewis’ compositional and technical priorities eschew those ideals and aesthetics derived from European concert music, an act of decentering that takes place at multiple levels within the Voyager system. Lewis first traces Voyager’s historical and conceptual lineage by juxtaposing his conceptual apparatus with that of institutional computer music. Largely, the history of computer music is situated within the conceptual and cultural practices derived from European concert music. Computer music emerges out of the technical innovations of World War II and into the aesthetic doctrines of post-war music that centered the rational, objective, scientism of Stockhausen and Xenakis over the Romantic, the feeling, and the intuitive, whose aesthetics were seen as contributing to cultural formations that enabled Fascism.[91]

George Lewis emphasizes the way in which Voyager exists as a distinct entity, taking up a technical and aesthetic lineage that diverges from the compositional and conceptual interests determined in these computer music centers. He writes that, “Voyager exemplifies an area of musical discourse using computers that is not viewed culturally and historically as a branch of trans-European contemporary concert music and, moreover, is not necessarily modeled as a narrative about ‘composition.’”[92]

This decentering additionally occurs at the level of performance, wherein Lewis attempts to center “Afrological” perspectives on improvisation over the normative “Eurological” perspectives predominantly encountered in Cagean and post-Cagean experimental music practices. Lewis argues for a history of improvisation that centers the contributions of African-American improvisers which provided a conceptual and formal structure that allowed Cage and his peers to develop the chance practices used in their own music. Lewis writes:

a group of radical young black American improvisers, for the most part lacking access to economic and political resources often taken for granted in high-culture musical circles, nonetheless posed potent challenges to Western notions of structure, form, communication, and expression. These improvisers, while cognizant of Western musical tradition, located and centered their modes of musical expression within a stream emanating largely from African and African-American cultural and social history. . . the emergence of these new, vigorous, and highly influential improvisative forms provided an impetus for musical workers in other traditions, particularly European and American composers active in the construction of a transnational European-based tradition, to come to grips with some of the implications of musical improvisation.[93]

Lewis goes on to trace the history by which these improvisatory practices, emerging in Cagean chance techniques, were largely dismissed by the composers who employed them on the grounds of their basis in the concepts and ideals of African-American improvisatory forms. Thus, a large-scale historical rewriting took place, wherein Cagean techniques of chance and aleatory were endowed a history that did not link them to the techniques of improvisation used by African-American musicians, and instead discounted Jazz almost entirely. In Voyager, Lewis attempts to rewrite this history of improvisation, centering the improvisatory concepts and aesthetics of African-American musicians and performers over those Eurological techniques employed by Cage and his cohort. George Lewis’ Voyager is thus an attempt at decolonizing the technical apparatuses of computer music as well as the improvisatory concepts of experimental music that are understood as being in a lineage comprised solely of Cage’s aleatoric and chance procedures.

Marina Rosenfeld, Warrior Queen, and Okkyung Lee work with a different form of noise than the one found in Lewis’s Voyager system. Fleeting voices, distant field recordings, and a ticking still ambiance fill the first half of “New York / It’s All About...” the opening track of P.A. / Hard Love. It is not until approximately three minutes in that Warrior Queen’s voice enters with the reverb laden words:“Every stiff jam... needs a bombshell... every bombshell... needs a stiff jam...” These words, surrounded by the static abstraction of Rosenfeld’s electronics and Okkyung Lee’s delicate cello improvisations, enter us into a world of complexity, (mis)translation, and transition.

P.A./Hard Love is a six-track album that orbits a larger complex of installative and performance work by Marina Rosenfeld entitled P.A. From 2009 through 2012, Rosenfeld worked on multiple iterations of P.A. in various public spaces. The work largely consisted of field recordings, recorded ‘listenings’ (in which one of Rosenfeld’s musical works or field recordings is re-recorded in an alternate space or listening context), as well as traditional, live performances which are broadcast and rebroadcast in different spaces and sites. This purely installative work developed into a larger performance practice in which Rosenfeld and cellist Okkyung Lee would improvise alongside the P.A. sound systems. These improvisations would frequently be recorded and then re-broadcast into subsequent performances of the work. Finally, in 2012, Rosenfeld invited the Dub artist Warrior Queen to perform with the duo. Warrior Queen’s voice would also undergo this same process of performance, recording, and rebroadcasting alongside Rosenfeld and Lee’s improvisations.

In his liner notes for P.A./Hard Love, Bill Dietz argues that the work “explores the potential reversibility of a given semantic field.”[94] Dietz’s semantic fields refer to the generic content associated with a specific musical style: there is, for example, some common vernacular of sounds which identifies a genre of music as that genre. Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen create within conventions determined by their specific musical fields, as Dietz writes: “Both work in relation to the given bounds and conventions of these domains, speaking through languages and formats which precede them. Their alliance is a perhaps unexpected syntactical link between their respective ‘genres’. . . ”[95] Using traditional codes associated with their respective genres, Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen ask listeners to speculate around the sites of divergence and linkage between these syntactical codes: what is the meaning of a linkage between Rosenfeld’s “Experimental Music” context and Warrior Queen’s “Dub” context? What is the listener to make of these seemingly incongruous affinities?

Dietz writes of this interchange and exchange of stylistic codes that, “These traversals hinge upon realigning degrees of periodicity or occurrence of given lexical and non-lexical semantic elements.”[96] The complex movement between different stylistic codes is the primary form of noise that we encounter in this work. The larger form of the piece contains the aperiodic characteristic of noise insofar as any moment can be heard as the irregular interchange between divergent semantic fields.

What Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen suggest in the alignment of their seemingly divergent artistic practices is a history of experimental electronic music which centers Dub as a primary site of technical and aesthetic innovation. Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen’s work can be understood as a gesture towards some kind of imagined or future Dub practice: woven throughout their work are many of the codes which are central signifiers of Dub. As identified by Michael Veal in Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Music, these signifiers include a critical memory of performance (insofar as previous performances become recorded objects for future manipulation and further redeployment), the emphasis on live manipulation and processing (whether done in real-time on vocal or instrumental parts or from the larger sonic memory of stored samples), as well as the use of a specifically developed and cultivated sound system designed to highlight, filter, and transform the work in some way through its diffusion.

Part of the aperiodicity, the noisiness of this work, resides in the manner in which it is listened to and received. Given the complex historical re-centering proposed by Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen, listeners can begin to hear any given moment as either participating in a historical lineage with European/American experimental music or with Jamaican Dub music. Through the noisiness of these linkages, Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen encourage listeners to aperiodically move between alternate modes of listening that receive the work either as a piece of Dub music or as a further development of European/American electronic experimentation. The aperiodicity of this form of listening simultaneously highlights linkages and affinities between the musical styles, technical and formal considerations of each respective style, as well as their divergent and discrete histories.

P.A. / Hard Love’s formal noisiness begins to create the conditions wherein the listener is afforded the interpretive space to create new definitions, forms, and understandings of the self as situated within a larger communal, social, and geographic structure. My interpretation of Rosenfeld and Warrior Queen’s work heard the linkages and affinities between their discrepant stylistic codes as a historical decentering of European/American electronic music as the primary vanguard of artistic and aesthetic innovation that instead centers Dub music. This gesture wholly recontextualizes and recalibrates our understanding of history, legacy, and lineage within the sonic avant-garde. As artists working in sound and within the tradition of ‘experimental electronic music’ our identities as makers are put under pressure by Warrior Queen and Rosenfeld’s music: as listeners we can choose to hear ourselves rewritten by their work. To actively participate in P.A. / Hard Love, to hear and embrace this historical decentering, creates the conditions for an affinity between makers and listeners of ‘Dub’ and other forms of experimental electronic music.

The types of noise encountered in Voyager and P.A. / Hard Love offer us an opening as listeners. The conceptual priorities of the artists create a context that can facilitate a listening that centers the auditor’s own interpretive and misinterpretive procedures; procedures that draw and define connections between discrete auditors. I do not intend to equate Fanon’s revolutionary context with the siloed cultural context of a niche experimental arts one - they are of entirely different historical magnitudes. The cultural sphere, however, can offer us a space for experimental imagining and radical self-fashioning on the part of the auditor and audiences alike. What culture might create is a space in which to begin constructing and imagining new understandings of the self. Already in the work of Warrior Queen, Rosenfeld, Lee, and Lewis are the suggestions of these emergent definitions. For listeners, these works can become a scaffolding for our own fantasies of the self and the society through which we move - fantasies to be actively shared, discussed, and developed with other auditors.

This type of listening would suggest a new musical situation: what kind of performance would open itself to the discussions and deliberations needed to achieve these new definitions and determinations? In what ways would music itself need to change in order to accommodate these various listenings? How can the structure of a piece of music work to include the auditor’s own broadcasting of their fantasies and the deliberation that ensues between listeners? I keep returning to Fanon’s final plea in The Wretched of the Earth, thinking that perhaps in music we can cultivate a space in which to begin these imaginings: “For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must make a new start, develop a new way of thinking, and endeavor to create a new man.”


Dominic Coles is a composer & improviser based in Queens, NYC. His work investigates the interactions of place, personhood, and power as they are articulated in sound, attempting to complicate and intervene in these categories through specific acts of technologically mediated listening.


  1. Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, (New York: Grove Press) 1994.
  2. Fanon, p. 85.
  3. Fanon, p. 69.
  4. Fanon, p. 70, 72.
  5. Since the invasion on June 18th, 1830, Algeria was administratively part of France. It’s European population consisting primarily of French, Italian, and Spanish expatriates were primarily referred to as Colons (short for colonists) and gradually Pied-Noir while the native Algerian population were identified as Arab, Muslim, or Indigenous.
  6. Fanon, p. 70.
  7. Fanon, p. 70.
  8. Fanon, p. 71.
  9. Rebecca P. Scales, ‘Subversive Sound: Transnational Radio, Arabic Recordings, and the Dangers of Listening in French Colonial Algeria, 1934 - 1939’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2 (2010), p. 390.
  10. Scales, p. 390; These included performances by Mahieddine Bachetarzi and the El-Moutribia orchestra, Lili Labassi, Sassi, Mohammed El-Anka, and Checika Tetma “playing a varied repertory of ‘classical’ Arabo-Andalusian music and ‘popular’ Algerian songs (la chaabi), Arabic covers of French chansons, and hybrid musical numbers that blended Arabic lyrics with fox-trots and rumbas,” p. 391. These programs were broadcast in “literary” Arabic, however, signaling that their consumption was intended for the Muslim elite, leaving them incomprehensible to the masses which primarily spoke Algerian Arabic or Berber dialects.
  11. As historian Rebecca Scales writes, “the airwaves over Algeria [turned] into a symbolic battleground for the mounting political struggle between Algerians and French authorities [and] over control of the colony itself,” Scales, p. 391.
  12. Scales, p. 392.
  13. Scales, p. 395.
  14. Scales, p. 400.
  15. Scales, p. 413.
  16. Fanon, p. 75.
  17. Fanon, p. 82; As Scales points out, there is strong historical evidence suggesting that the French colonial authorities “deliberately fostered illiteracy in Arabic to promote Algerian assimilation to French values,” (p. 24) and widespread use and reliance on written French.
  18. Scales, p. 22
  19. Fanon, p. 82.
  20. The show was also interchangeably called Voice of Algeria and the Voice of Fighting Algeria.
  21. John Ruedy, Modern Algeria: the Origins and Development of a Nation, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), p. 1.
  22. French expatriates in Algeria and their descendants, known as colons and pieds-noirs, were not subject to the rule of these administrative bureaus, known as Arab Bureaus.
  23. Fanon, p. 86.
  24. Dorothee M. Kellou, A Microhistory of the Forced Resettlement of the Algerian Muslim Population During the Algerian War of Independence (1954 – 1962): Mansourah, Kabylia, (Georgetown), p. 166.
  25. Fanon, p. 85.
  26. Fanon, p. 86.
  27. Fanon, p. 88.
  28. Ian Baucom, ‘Frantz Fanon’s Radio: Solidarity, Diaspora, and the Tactics of Listening’, Contemporary Literature, 42 (2001), pp. 15-49.
  29. Alasdair Pinkerton, ‘Radio and the Raj: Broadcasting in British India (1920–1940)’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 18 (2008), p. 167.
  30. Pinkerton, p. 167.
  31. Pinkerton, p. 167.
  32. Pinkerton, p. 168.
  33. Partha Sarathi Gupta, Power, Politics and the People: Studies in British Imperialism, and Indian Nationalism, (Ranikhet, India: Permanent Black, 2008), p.447.
  34. Pinkerton, p. 189.
  35. The elections of 1937 and 1940 saw India represented by a wide range of political bodies including the Congress Party, the All India Muslim League, the Azad Muslim Conference, and the Communist Party of India.
  36. Also known as the Ghost Radio and the Freedom Radio.
  37. Pradip Ninan Thomas, Political Economy of Communications in India: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, (Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2010), p. 47.
  38. The financial and material resources extracted from Britain’s colonies in Africa and Asia were central to Britain’s strategy throughout WWII. In India, over 2.5 million soldiers were sent to fight against the Axis powers with 87,000 soldiers and 3 million civilians losing their lives. These extractive practices culminated in the Bengal Famine of 1943, an anthropogenic or man-made famine caused largely by the diversion of food, supplies, and resources out of the country and towards the war effort. The famine resulted in the deaths of 3.8 million people. Within India, there were significant divisions on how to approach the British war effort: the Congress Party refused to send troops until India was given independence, a stance which resulted in the immediate arrest of 60,000 Congress Party leaders and members.
  39. Thomas, p. 47.
  40. The Congress Radio Calling: Underground Broadcasts During the Quit India Movement. Soundings (Stanford, 2014), URL:, min. 5:35.
  41. Thomas, p. 47.
  42. Thomas, p. 47.
  43. Roshan Bhujwala
  44. Said, p. 267.
  45. Said, p. 270.
  46. Said, p. 273.
  47. Brandon Hogan, ‘Frantz Fanon’s Engagement with Hegel’s Master-Slave Dialectic’, The Journal of Pan African Studies (2018), p. 8.
  48. Mariana Teixeira, ‘Marx from the Margins, Issue 2: Master-Slave Dialectics’, Journal for Contemporary Philosophy (2018).
  49. Hogan, p. 5.
  50. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, (New York: Grove Press, 2007), p. 194.
  51. Hogan, p. 8.
  52. Fanon, p. 195.
  53. Fanon, p. 195.
  54. Hogan, P.13.
  55. Sigmund Freud, ‘Recommendations for Physicians on the Psychoanalytic Method of Treatment’, (New York: Vintage Books), p. 2470; Freud’s language in the above quote is of specific interest: the way in which the analyst’s listening apparatus is equated with, at the time, emergent sound technologies including the microphone and the telephone.
  56. Freud, p. 2467.
  57. Freud understood the relationship between mediation and the unconscious even then, aware to some degree of Kittler’s claim, made many years later, that the psychoanalytic case study is in essence a media technology. As Kittler argues, “psychoanalysis competes with technological sound recording,” insofar as the process itself is “haunted” by the phonograph’s uncanny ability to faithfully and exactly store the analysand’s words. For Kittler, this meant that Freud’s reference to the various media technologies indicates the way in which those medias are functioning as the basis for his thought processes. Kittler argues that unbeknownst to Freud, these technologies overpower and thus determine him. Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press), p. 89.
  58. Camille Robcis, ‘Frantz Fanon: the Pathologies of Freedom and the Decolonization of the Mind’, Journal of the History of Ideas (2018), p. 2.
  59. Robcis, p. 1; Institutional Psychotherapy also sought to restructure the clinic into one, “without doors, without gates, without uniforms, and without handcuffs.” Treatment evolved to reflect this open, anti-authoritarian clinical practice: in addition to regular “40 minute one-on-one psychoanalysis session[s],” there were group therapy sessions which included the patients, doctors, and staff of the hospital in what Fanon called sociodrames. In Saint-Alban, these group meetings came to be called “The Club,” and would inspire Fanon’s methods of treatment while working in Algeria and Tunisia subsequently. The structure of The Club and other group activities was designed so as to “imagine different vectors of transference, to ‘heal’ the collective,” establishing and facilitating a “horizontal ‘collectivity,’” and a “transferential constellation,” between all gathered.
  60. Robcis, p. 21.
  61. Robcis, p. 22.
  62. This argument is made throughout Black Skin, White Masks and can be notably found in the sections “The Black Man and Language,” “The Woman of Color and the White Man,” and “The Man of Color and the White Woman.”
  63. Fanon, p. 195.
  64. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, p. 23.
  65. Fanon, p. 85 - 86.
  66. Fanon, p. 87.
  67. Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the “Phenomenology of Spirit”. (New York: Basic Books, 1969), p. 7.
  68. Fanon, pp. 85 - 86.
  69. Baucom, p. 24.
  70. Fanon, pp. 86 – 87.
  71. Baucom, p. 24.
  72. Baucom, p. 24.
  73. Baucom, p. 25
  74. Baucom, p. 25.
  75. Baucom, p. 29.
  76. Baucom, p. 29.
  77. George E. Lewis. ‘Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in Voyager’, Leonardo Music Journal, 10 (2000), p. 33.
  78. Lewis, p. 33.
  79. Lewis, p. 34.
  80. Lewis, p. 35.
  81. Lewis, pp. 36 - 37.
  82. Lewis, p. 33.
  83. Lewis, p. 33.
  84. Lewis, p. 33.
  85. Lewis, p. 34.
  86. Lewis, p. 34.
  87. Lewis, p. 34.
  88. Lewis, p. 34.
  89. Lewis, p. 34.
  90. Lewis, p. 34.
  91. An elaboration of a binary logic that was itself a production of Enlightenment thinking.
  92. Lewis, p. 33.
  93. George E. Lewis, ‘Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives’, Center for Black Music Research (1996), pp. 91 - 92.

  94. Bill Dietz, ‘Liner Notes (or, Marina Rosenfeld Loves You)’, 2013, p. 2.
  95. Dietz, p. 2.
  96. Dietz, p. 2.