DIS Staff and Faculty Learn about Tracing Colonialism in Copenhagen

DIS Faculty led a half-day professional development field study throughout Copenhagen to discover parts of Denmark’s colonial legacy.

DIS DIS Copenhagen Semester

Led by Birgitte Pallesen, Ditte-Marie Egebjerg, and Mette Jungersen, who teach the courses Postcolonial Europe: Narratives, Nationalism, and Race, the field study aimed at reflecting on Denmark’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade and colonial actions in the Arctic and the Caribbean. The group visited different architectural sights and public art spaces to delve deep into the nation’s past colonial atrocities.

Guest speaker, Juno Berthelsen from the Greenlandic NGO, Nalik, met with the group at the North Atlantic House to discuss decolonization in Greenland and Denmark. Current issues, such as use of the term Eskimo in Danish language, were discussed, and the group engaged in conversation about stereotyping, racial biases, and attitudes towards Greenlanders in Denmark.

In addition, one of the important sites visited was the I Am Queen Mary statue, created by Virgin Island artist La Vaughn Belle and Danish artist Jeanette Ehlers in 2018. Guest speaker Jeanette Ehlers was present to give a talk at the monument to discuss Denmark’s role in slavery and the impact that the monument has had for claiming space for black resistance and empowerment during Denmark’s colonial rule. The statue is located in a place of historical significance next to the West Indian Warehouse.

In the words of DIS staff member, Mia Priskorn, “It was very exciting to reflect on how Denmark’s colonization of other areas in the world is treated differently – the Nordic “cold” areas and the more exotic “warm” areas… It was very valuable to get the opportunity to meet two key people within anti-discrimination in Denmark.”

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