From January 12 through 24, Scandinavia House presents virtual cinema screenings of We Carry It Within Us: Fragments of a Shared Colonial Past, a documentary by Helle Stenum investigating collective memory and different perspectives on the shared colonial past between Denmark and U.S. Virgin Islands. The film will premiere in coordination with the virtual panel Race and Colonialism in the Past and Present, featuring the artists Jeanette Ehlers with La Vaughn Belle, who appears in the documentary.
Who and what are being remembered, and how is the story of a past told? The colonial history, slavery, and the transatlantic slave trade have often been told in Denmark from a Danish perspective by a model of “Danes telling the narrative about and for (primarily) other Danes.” In Denmark there is a national narrative of being the first country to abolish slave trade in 1792, and that the governor of the islands, Peter von Scholten gave the slaves their freedom in 1848, but how does this shared past look from the perspective of the U.S. Virgin Islands?
In the documentary, the legacy of slavery and enslavement, the memory of the Danes, the sales of the islands and the relationship to the U.S. are told through recordings which have been conducted on St. Croix, New York and Copenhagen. Other versions of the past are told that differ from the Danish narrative: stories about the emancipation from slavery and names of freedom heroes, who are unknown in Denmark.
In this film, see and listen to the colonial history told through the memories, experiences and reflections from descendants of former Danish Afro-Caribbeans on the Virgin Islands (the artist La Vaughn Belle, the student Chenoa Lee, the author Tiphanie Yanique and the anthropologist Tami Navarro), along with art and cultural historians who tell about Denmark and Europe’s role in the enslavement and the transatlantic slave trade — and how the colonial history is leaving its mark in today’s words, art, museums, education and wealth as well as in various types of memory and forgetfulness.
Tickets are $5 and free for ASF Members; a ticket code will be sent out to ASF Members shortly before it begins screening.
To register for Race and Colonialism in the Past and Present, which will take place on January 12 at 12 PM, please click here.
Helle Stenum, PhD, researcher, educator, has for many years worked on issues such as migration, culture, collective memory, ethnic relations, transnational connections, race and gender constructs at universities and as independent researcher and consultant.
We Carry It Within Us is her first documentary and builds upon her profound knowledge on the colonial connection and her wide international network.