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Race in the Colonial Past and Present: Virtual Conversation with La Vaughn Belle and Jeanette Ehlers

January 12, 2021—12:00 pm1:00 pm

TUE—January 12—12 PM

*This event will take place virtually via Zoom.*


American-Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a virtual conversation between artists Jeanette Ehlers and La Vaughn Belle on “Race in the Colonial Past and Present,” moderated by Ursula Lindqvist, on January 12. In the mid-17th century, Denmark established a colonial presence in the Caribbean and participated in the transatlantic slave trade until the early 19th century. Though Denmark was the first European country to abolish the transport of enslaved Africans in 1792, approximately 120,000 people from present-day Ghana were brought to the Danish West Indies (now the United States Virgin Islands) to plant and harvest sugar cane. The emancipation of slaves on the Danish West Indies occurred in 1848, and the Virgin Islands’ former plantation economy collapsed. In 1917, Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas were sold to the United States and introduced into yet another national narrative.

In 2018, Virgin Islands artist La Vaughn Belle and Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers created the monumental public sculpture entitled I AM QUEEN MARY, inaugurated at the Danish West Indian Warehouse in Copenhagen. This project was the first collaborative sculpture to memorialize Denmark’s colonial impact in the Caribbean and those who fought against it, challenging Denmark’s role in slavery and the commemoration of its colonial past and aiming to change the narrative around this history by centering the stories and agency of those who were brought to the Danish West Indies.

Listen to the two artists discuss colonialism and how commemorative representations can impact the public discourse surrounding Danish colonial history. What do these representations mean for people of African descent living in the Nordic Countries? What do they mean to the Virgin Islands? And how can they intervene in the historic, current and future relationship between Denmark and the Virgin Islands?

The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to Registration is required; please sign up at the link below.



January 12, 2021
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm