Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Africana Philosophy, Depression, Suicide

Major Advisor

Lewis R. Gordon

Associate Advisor

Michael P. Lynch

Associate Advisor

Jane Anna Gordon

Associate Advisor

Frederick I. Lee

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation examines experiences of depression for Africana people who live under conditions of antiblack racism and coloniality. Depression is conventionally understood as a mental disorder that results in severally depressed moods. However, dominant psychiatric methodologies fail to connect such mood disorders to forms of structural oppression. Using primarily the works of the Afro-Martinican psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon and his account of “sociodiagnostics,” this dissertation examines the connections between mental “well-being” and socio-political “disorder.” In the first part of this I project, I examine how a particular form of depression for Africana people is the result of etiological causes which stem from the ordinarily lived-experience of being black in a “disordered” world. The second part of this project applies the sociodiagnostic method and autoethnography to examine how the disparate consequences of antiblack racism and coloniality affect how a particular subset of the diaspora, Cabo Verdeans, experience depreson. I also reveal how an underlying “coloniality of happiness” structures not only notions of abnormality but also experiences of happiness and well-being for Africana people. The third part of this project compares conventional conceptions of suicide with Africana conceptions of “flight” and “life-risking” resistance to reveal how Afro-diasporic people are willing to face death for the prospect of freedom and wellness. In conclusion, I then examine how Africana people have responded to “disordered” political orders by constructing “ecstatic communities”—arrangements that are optimal for “nonbeings.”

Available for download on Sunday, April 22, 2029