2019 Thesis Prize Winner

Anwar Omeish ’19

Winner | Toward the Modern Revolution: Frantz Fanon, Secularity, and the Horizons of Political Possibility in Revolutionary Algeria

Concentrator in Social Studies with a Secondary in Comparative Literature

Anwar OmeishAnwar argues that anticolonial thinker Frantz Fanon presumes a binary between modern and traditional that limits his own political critique and occludes the subversive work of Algerian Muslim thinkers and actors in his midst. The committee was struck by the subtlety and complexity with which this work engages a vast range of discourses including psychoanalysis, existentialism, Négritude, and Islamic ethics. This thesis examines interconnected issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and coloniality with a rare combination of breadth and precision. It opens the door to new ways of reading an essential figure for postcolonial and ethnic studies.

About Anwar: Anwar Omeish is a Libyan-Muslim-American senior in Social Studies (with a focus field in theories of race, religion, and colonialism in the Muslim world) and a secondary in Comparative Literature. In her time at Harvard, she has been involved in the Phillips Brooks House Association, the Harvard Islamic Society, the Ethnic Studies Coalition, and other campus social justice initiatives. She believes deeply in the power of reflective and community-engaged scholarship to help us envision new political possibilities, and hopes to pursue a career doing just that. Anwar is also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow.

Statement from Anwar: This thesis focuses on the work of anti-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon in its 20th century Algerian context to assess how the assumption of secularity in revolutionary discourses forecloses political possibilities in the past and for the present. Transnational and interdisciplinary, Anwar's thesis is a response to our urgent need for better political futures -- and a call for the readings of the past that might make them possible.