Reading Gramsci through Fanon: Hegemony before Dominance in Revolutionary Theory

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This essay examines the importance of Antonio Gramsci's concepts of hegemony and dominance for anticolonial movements. Hegemony is a practice of power that rests substantially on the consent of various strata achieved by groups possessing or seeking state power, whereas dominance relies primarily on coercion. Subaltern groups and revolutionary parties, Gramsci argues, must displace ruling-class hegemony and become hegemonic themselves before assuming state power. But not all ruling classes are integrally hegemonic. As Ranajit Guha argues, colonialism represents “dominance without hegemony.” Examining Frantz Fanon's discussion of anticolonial nationalism, I argue that even in situations of apparent dominance without hegemony, subaltern classes and revolutionary parties must achieve hegemony before state power for genuine decolonization. The essay argues that the emergence, consolidation, and problematic outcomes of FRELIMO's (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) resistance to Portuguese colonialism indicate the need to pay close attention to the dialectic of hegemony before dominance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-257
Number of pages17
JournalRethinking Marxism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © 2015 Association for Economic and Social Analysis.


  • Antonio Gramsci
  • Colonialism
  • Frantz Fanon
  • Hegemony
  • Revolutionary Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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