On the San Dominick: Thinking nomos and postcolonial becoming with Melville, Scmitt and Fanon

Chryssostalis, J.H. 2022. On the San Dominick: Thinking nomos and postcolonial becoming with Melville, Scmitt and Fanon. in: Chryssostalis, J.H. and Barnard-Naudé, J. (ed.) Spatial Justice After Apartheid: Nomos in the postcolony Abingdon, Oxon Routledge. pp. 58-83

Chapter titleOn the San Dominick: Thinking nomos and postcolonial becoming with Melville, Scmitt and Fanon
AuthorsChryssostalis, J.H.
EditorsChryssostalis, J.H. and Barnard-Naudé, J.
Abstract

Reading closely Herman Melville’s novella, “Benito Cereno” (Melville 1856), a piece of literature that Schmitt read intensely and used extensively, so much so that he came to identify with the central character, this chapter breaks with Schmitt’s interpretation of “Benito Cereno” as the “myth of unresolved situations” and impossible choices, which provides a way for him to justify his involvement with the Nazi regime, and proposes, against Schmitt, a very different reading of Melville’s novella. Taking us back to the opening scene of the story, when the American captain boards the Spanish slave ship, oblivious to the fact that this had been taken over by its human cargo, the chapter argues that this moment offers a rare staging of the “tarrying with the negative” that characterises every post-revolutionary situation, and of the “relative opacity,”, as Fanon puts it, in which “each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it” (Fanon 1963). This condition, the chapter argues, is the situation in which the symbolic link breaks, and this break opens up a number of different possibilities of how to reconstitute it. Thus, while reading Schmitt’s account of modernity and colonialism, the chapter focuses on the question of what comes – what could come –- after the colonial moment and its nomos, and taking its cue from Melville, Schmitt and Fanon respectively, the chapter goes on to sketch three different configurations of postcolonial becoming.

KeywordsBenito Cereno
Melville
nomos
Schmitt
Fanon
Book titleSpatial Justice After Apartheid: Nomos in the postcolony
Page range58-83
Year2022
PublisherRoutledge
Publication dates
Published25 Aug 2022
Place of publicationAbingdon, Oxon
SeriesLaw and the Postcolonial
ISBN9781138559370
9780203712771
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203712771-3

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