Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Students will participate in onli - Study Help


Students will participate in online discussions of assigned topics and readings within their assigned groups.  The second exercise is based on the identification and application of conflict theory dealing with social inequality and social change.

One of the important skills in using sociological theory is the ability to make connections between recognized or well-known theoretical models and situations or circumstances different from the specific contexts within which those theories were developed. Ch. 1 in the Collins text discusses numerous theories of social stratification and power beginning with Marx and Engels and ending with what Collins calls the “Golden Age” of historical sociology.

For this exercise let’s apply some of those theoretical perspectives to the writings of two of the leading thinkers in the postwar anti-colonial struggles of Africa: Albert Memmi (1920-2020) and Frantz Fanon (1926-1961). Neither was a social scientist; Memmi was born in Tunisia of mixed Jewish and Arab descent and educated in philosophy at the Sorbonne, while Fanon was born in Martinique, later educated in France in medicine and psychiatry, and subsequently resident in Algeria until he was deported in 1957. Both were actively involved in the efforts of North Africa to throw of French colonial rule, which ended in independence for Tunisia in 1956 and Algeria in 1962.  Both wrote memorably about colonial relationships: Memmi published “The Colonizer and the Colonized” in 1957, and Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” appeared in 1961.

You have two excerpts to read:

1. Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (Boston: Beacon Press, 1965), pp. 79-91 (PDF)

· Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth Download The Wretched of the Earth(New York: Grove Press, 2004 [1963]), pp. 63-81 (PDF)

After you read these selections, think about the theories of class, stratification and power discussed by Collins. Then work on answering these questions:

1. Both Memmi and Fanon draw categorical distinctions between the colonizer and colonized. Memmi focuses on the colonizer’s perceptions and beliefs regarding the colonized. Which conflict theories within the Marxist and Weberian traditions do you think might help to explain the situation as Memmi presents it?

2. Fanon (the assigned reading for the second week) offers a more detailed analysis of the colonial context. Who are the principal social actors he identifies, and which conflict theories do you think are most apt for undertanding their actions and ideas?

3. Note: except for Marx and Weber, Collins does not provide you with lengthy description of conflict theorists, so you need to reason about how different historical analyses and concepts might be applied to the specific colonial context of North Africa. See also my PowerPoints for conflict theory.

-.. BOO S & JOU — : A S



Book Title: Racism

Book Author(s): ALBERT MEMMI

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Stable URL:

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide
range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and
facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at

Terms and Conditions of Use

University of Minnesota Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend
access to Racism

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

appendix d

the mythic portrait of the

Translated by Howard Greenfield
Reprinted from Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and
the Colonized (Boston: Beacon Press, 1965),
Originally published as Portrait du colonisé, précédé
de portrait du colonisateur (Paris: Corréa, 1957).

ust as the bourgeoisie proposes an
image of the proletariat, the exis-
tence of the colonizer requires that
an image of the colonized be sug-

gested. These images become excuses without which
the presence and conduct of a colonizer, and that of
a bourgeois, would seem shocking. But the favored
image becomes a myth precisely because it suits them
too well.

Let us imagine, for the sake of this portrait and
accusation, the often-cited trait of laziness. It seems
to receive unanimous approval of colonizers from
Liberia to Laos, via the Maghreb. It is easy to see to
what extent this description is useful. It occupies an
important place in the dialectics exalting the coloniz-
er and humbling the colonized. Furthermore, it is
economically fruitful.


This content downloaded from on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC

All use subject to

206 appendix d

Nothing could better justify the colonizer’s
privileged position than his industry, and nothing
could better justify the colonized’s destitution than
his indolence. The mythical portrait of the colonized
therefore includes an unbelievable laziness, and that
of the colonizer, a virtuous taste for action. At the
same time the colonizer suggests that employing the
colonized is not very profitable, thereby authorizing
his unreasonable wages.

It may seem that colonization would profit by
employing experienced personnel. Nothing is less
true. A qualified worker existing among the coloniz-
ers earns three or four times more than does the colo-
nized, while he does not produce three or four times
as much, either in quantity or in quality. It is more
advantageous to use three of the colonized than one
European. Every firm needs specialists, of course, but
only a minimum of them, and the colonizer imports
or recruits experts among his own kind. In addition,
there is the matter of the special attention and legal
protection required by a European worker. The colo-
nized, however, is only asked for his muscles; he is so
poorly evaluated that three or four can be taken on
for the price of one European.

From listening to him, on the other hand, one
finds that the colonizer is not so displeased with that
laziness, whether supposed or real. He talks of it with
amused affability, he jokes about it, he takes up all
the usual expressions, perfects them, and invents oth-
ers. Nothing can describe well enough the extraordi-
nary deficiency of the colonized. He becomes lyrical
about it, in a negative way. The colonized doesn’t let

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

the mythic portrait of the colonized 207

grass grow under his feet, but a tree, and what a tree!
A eucalyptus, an American centenarian oak! A tree?
No, a forest!

But, one will insist, is the colonized truly lazy?
To tell the truth, the question is poorly stated. Besides
having to define a point of reference, a norm, varying
from one people to another, can one accuse an entire
people of laziness? It can be suspected of individuals,
even many of them in a single group. One can won-
der, if their output is mediocre, whether malnutrition,
low wages, a closed future, a ridiculous conception of
a role in society does not make the colonized uninter-
ested in his work. What is suspect is that the accusa-
tion is not directed solely at the farm laborer or slum
resident but also at the professor, engineer, or physi-
cian who does the same number of hours of work as
his colonizer colleagues; indeed, all individuals of the
colonized group are accused. Essentially, the indepen-
dence of the accusation from any sociological or his-
torical conditions makes it suspect.

In fact, the accusation has nothing to do with
an objective notation, therefore subject to possible
changes, but with an institution. By his accusation
the colonizer establishes the colonized as being lazy.
He decides that laziness is constitutional in the very
nature of the colonized. It becomes obvious that the
colonized, whatever he may undertake, whatever zeal
he may apply, could never be anything but lazy. This
always brings us back to racism, which is the sub-
stantive expression, to the accuser’s benefit, of a real
or imaginary trait of the accused.

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

208 appendix d

It is possible to proceed with the same analysis
for each of the features found in the colonized.

Whenever the colonizer states, in his language,
that the colonized is a weakling, he suggests thereby
that this deficiency requires protection. From this
comes the concept of a protectorate. It is in the colo-
nized’s own interest that he be excluded from manage-
ment functions and that those heavy responsibilities
be reserved for the colonizer. Whenever the colonizer
adds, in order not to fall prey to anxiety, that the colo-
nized is a wicked, backward person with evil, thievish,
somewhat sadistic instincts, he thus justifies his police
and his legitimate severity. After all, he must defend
himself against the dangerous foolish acts of the irre-
sponsible, and at the same time—what meritorious
concern!—protect him against himself! It is the same
for the colonized’s lack of desires, his ineptitude for
comfort, science, progress, his astonishing familiarity
with poverty. Why should the colonizer worry about
things that hardly trouble the interested party? It
would be, he adds with dark and insolent philosophy,
doing him a bad turn if he subjected him to the disad-
vantages of civilization. After all, remember that wis-
dom is Eastern; let us accept, as he does, the colo-
nized’s wretchedness. The same reasoning is also true
for the colonized’s notorious ingratitude; the coloniz-
er’s acts of charity are wasted, the improvements the
colonizer has made are not appreciated. It is impossi-
ble to save the colonized from this myth—a portrait of
wretchedness has been indelibly engraved.

It is significant that this portrait requires noth-
ing else. It is difficult, for instance, to reconcile most

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

the mythic portrait of the colonized 209

of these features and then to proceed to synthesize
them objectively. One can hardly see how the colo-
nized can be simultaneously inferior and wicked, lazy
and backward.

What is more, the traits ascribed to the colo-
nized are incompatible with one another, though this
does not bother his prosecutor. He is depicted as fru-
gal, sober, without many desires, and, at the same
time, he consumes disgusting quantities of meat, fat,
alcohol, anything; as a coward who is afraid of suf-
fering and as a brute who is not checked by any inhi-
bitions of civilization. It is additional proof that it is
useless to seek this consistency anywhere except in
the colonizer himself. At the basis of the entire con-
struction, one finally finds a common motive: the col-
onizer’s economic and basic needs, which he substi-
tutes for logic, and which shape and explain each of
the traits he assigns to the colonized. In the last analy-
sis, these traits are all advantageous to the colonizer,
even those that at first sight seem damaging to him.

The point is that the colonized means little to
the colonizer. Far from wanting to understand him as
he really is, the colonizer is preoccupied with making
him undergo this urgent change. The mechanism of
this remolding of the colonized is revealing in itself.
It consists, in the first place, of a series of negations.
The colonized is not this, is not that. He is never con-
sidered in a positive light; or if he is, the quality that
is conceded is the result of a psychological or ethical
failing. Thus it is with Arab hospitality, which is diffi-
cult to consider as a negative characteristic. If one
pays attention, one discovers that the praise comes

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

210 appendix d

from tourists, visiting Europeans, and not colonizers,
i.e., Europeans who have settled down in the colony.
As soon as he is settled, the European no longer takes
advantage of this hospitality but cuts off intercourse
and contributes to the barriers that plague the colo-
nized. He rapidly changes palette to portray the colo-
nized, who becomes jealous, withdrawn, intolerant,
and fanatical. What happens to the famous hospitali-
ty? Since he cannot deny it, the colonizer then brings
into play the shadows and describes the disastrous

This hospitality is a result of the colonized’s
irresponsibility and extravagance, since he has no
notion of foresight or economy. From the wealthy
down to the fellah, the festivities are wonderful and
bountiful—but what happens afterward? The colo-
nized ruins himself, borrows and finally pays with
someone else’s money! Does one speak, on the other
hand, of the modesty of the colonized’s life? Of his
not less well known lack of needs? It is no longer a
proof of wisdom but of stupidity—as if, then, every
recognized or invented trait had to be an indication
of negativity.

Thus, one after another, all the qualities that
make a man of the colonized crumble away. The
humanity of the colonized, rejected by the colonizer,
becomes opaque. It is useless, he asserts, to try to
forecast the colonized’s actions. (“They are unpre-
dictable!” “With them, you never know!”) It seems
to him that a strange and disturbing impulsiveness
controls the colonized. The colonized must indeed

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

the mythic portrait of the colonized 211

be very strange, if he remains so mysterious after
years of living with the colonizer.

Another sign of the colonized’s depersonaliza-
tion is what one might call the mark of the plural.
The colonized is never characterized in an individual
manner; he is entitled only to drown in an anony-
mous collectivity. (“They are this.” “They are all the
same.”) If a colonized servant does not come in one
morning, the colonizer will not say that she is ill, or
that she is cheating, or that she is tempted not to
abide by an oppressive contract. (Seven days a week;
colonized domestics rarely enjoy the one day off a
week granted to others.) He will say, “You can’t
count on them.” It is not just a grammatical expres-
sion. He refuses to consider personal, private occur-
rences in his maid’s life; that life in a specific sense
does not interest him, and his maid does not exist as
an individual.

Finally, the colonizer denies the colonized the
most precious right granted to most men: liberty.
Living conditions imposed on the colonized by
colonization make no provision for it; indeed, they
ignore it. The colonized has no way out of his state
of woe—neither a legal outlet (naturalization) nor a
religious outlet (conversion). The colonized is not
free to choose between being colonized or not being

What is left of the colonized at the end of this
stubborn effort to dehumanize him? He is surely no
longer an alter ego of the colonizer. He is hardly a
human being. He tends rapidly toward becoming

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

212 appendix d

an object. As an end, in the colonizer’s supreme
ambition, he should exist only as a function of the
needs of the colonizer, i.e., be transformed into a
pure colonized.

The extraordinary efficiency of this operation
is obvious. One does not have a serious obligation
toward an animal or an object. It is then easily under-
stood that the colonizer can indulge in such shocking
attitudes and opinions. A colonized driving a car is a
sight to which the colonizer refuses to become accus-
tomed; he denies him all normality. An accident, even
a serious one, overtaking the colonized almost makes
him laugh. A machine-gun burst into a crowd of col-
onized causes him merely to shrug his shoulders.
Even a native mother weeping over the death of her
son or a native woman weeping for her husband
reminds him only vaguely of the grief of a mother or
a wife. Those desperate cries, those unfamiliar ges-
tures would be enough to freeze his compassion even
if it were aroused. An author was recently humorous-
ly telling us how rebelling natives were driven like
game toward huge cages. The fact that someone had
conceived and then dared build those cages, and even
more, that reporters had been allowed to photograph
the fighting, certainly proves that the spectacle had
contained nothing human.

Madness for destroying the colonized having
originated with the needs of the colonizers, it is not
surprising that it conforms so well to them, that it
seems to confirm and justify the colonizer’s conduct.
More surprising, more harmful perhaps, is the echo
that it excites in the colonized himself. Constantly

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

the mythic portrait of the colonized 213

confronted with this image of himself, set forth and
imposed on all institutions and in every human con-
tact, how could the colonized help reacting to his
portrait? It cannot leave him indifferent and remain a
veneer that, like an insult, blows with the wind. He
ends up recognizing it as one would a detested nick-
name that has become a familiar description. The
accusation disturbs him and worries him even more
because he admires and fears his powerful accuser.
“Is he not partly right?” he mutters. “Are we not
all a little guilty after all? Lazy, because we have so
many idlers? Timid, because we let ourselves be
oppressed.” Willfully created and spread by the colo-
nizer, this mythical and degrading portrait ends up by
being accepted and lived with to a certain extent by
the colonized. It thus acquires a certain amount of
reality and contributes to the true portrait of the

This process is not unknown. It is a hoax. It is
common knowledge that the ideology of a governing
class is adopted in large measure by the governed
classes. Now, every ideology of combat includes as an
integral part of itself a conception of the adversary.
By agreeing to this ideology, the dominated classes
practically confirm the role assigned to them. This
explains, inter alia, the relative stability of societies;
oppression is tolerated willy-nilly by the oppressed
themselves. In colonial relationships, domination
is imposed by people upon people but the pattern
remains the same. The characterization and role of
the colonized occupies a choice place in colonialist
ideology, a characterization that is neither true to life

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

214 appendix d

nor in itself incoherent, but necessary and inseparable
within that ideology. It is one to which the colonized
gives his troubled and partial, but undeniable, assent.

There is only a particle of truth in the fashion-
able notions of “dependency complex,” “colonizabil-
ity,” etc. There undoubtedly exists—at some point in
its evolution—a certain adherence of the colonized to
colonization. However, this adherence is the result of
colonization and not its cause. It arises after and not
before colonial occupation. In order for the colonizer
to be the complete master, it is not enough for him to
be so in actual fact, but he must also believe in its
legitimacy. In order for that legitimacy to be complet-
ed, it is not enough for the colonized to be a slave; he
must also accept his role. The bond between coloniz-
er and colonized is thus destructive and creative. It
destroys and re-creates the two partners of coloniza-
tion into colonizer and colonized. One is disfigured
into an oppressor, a partial, unpatriotic, and treach-
erous being, worrying only about his privileges and
their defense; the other, into an oppressed creature,
whose development is broken and who compromises
by his defeat.

Just as the colonizer is tempted to accept his
part, the colonized is forced to accept being colonized.

It would have been too good if that mythical portrait
had remained a pure illusion, a look at the colonized
that would only have softened the colonizer’s bad
conscience. However, impelled by the same needs
that created it, it cannot fail to be expressed in actual

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

the mythic portrait of the colonized 215

conduct, in active and constructive behavior. (And
the same can be said for anti-Semitism.)

Since the colonized is presumed a thief, he
must in fact be guarded against. (Being suspect by
definition, why should he not be guilty?) Some laun-
dry was stolen (a frequent incident in these sunny
lands, where the laundry dries in the open air and
mocks those who are naked), and who but the first
colonized seen in that vicinity can be guilty? Since it
may be he, they go to his home and take him to the
police station. (The same happens to Gypsies, who
camp at the edge of the city.)

“Some injustice!” retorts the colonizer. “One
time out of two, we hit it right. And, in any case, the
thief is a colonized; if we don’t find him in the first
hut, he’ll be in the second one.”

This conduct, which is common to colonizers
as a group, thus becomes what can be called a social
institution. In other words, it defines and establishes
concrete situations that close in on the colonized,
weigh on him until they bend his conduct and leave
their marks on his face. Generally speaking, these are
situations of inadequacy. The ideological aggression
that tends to dehumanize and then deceive the colo-
nized finally corresponds to concrete situations that
lead to the same result. To be deceived to some extent
already, to endorse the myth and then adapt to it, is
to be acted upon by it. That myth is furthermore sup-
ported by a very solid organization, a government
and a judicial system fed and renewed by the coloniz-
er’s historic, economic, and cultural needs. Even if he

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

216 appendix d

were insensitive to calumny and scorn, even if he
shrugged his shoulders at insults and jostling, how
could the colonized escape the low wages, the agony
of his culture, the law that rules him from birth until

Just as the colonized cannot escape the colo-
nialist hoax, he could not avoid those situations that
create real inadequacy. To a certain extent, the true
portrait of the colonized is a function of this relation-
ship. Reversing a previous formula, it can be stated
that colonization creates the colonized, just as we
have seen that it creates the colonizer.

This content downloaded from
������������� on Fri, 14 Aug 2020 20:06:54 UTC�������������

All use subject to

error: Content is protected !!