Andersen, Astrid Nonbo. ‘“We Have Reconquered the Islands”: Figurations in Public Memories of Slavery and Colonialism in Denmark 1948–2012’. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, vol. 26, no. 1, Mar. 2013, pp. 57–76.
The fact that Denmark was deeply engaged in the practices of the slave trade and slavery from the seventeenth century to 1848 often goes unnoticed—even in Denmark. For this reason, a number of Danish scholars and artists have characterized Danish ignorance of the colonial past as repression. This article demonstrates that the colonial past has in fact never been repressed, but has instead been subject to figurations, as theorized by Olick (2007). The initial experiences of colonialism have been screened at different points in time rendering the past in versions very far from the actual historical events themselves. Recently, new claims for reparations for slavery and colonialism in the former Danish West Indies have challenged the existing notions of the colonial past in Denmark. These claims have not resulted in an official Danish politics of regret (Olick 2007) as witnessed in other former colonial states. Whereas, a radical break away from the earlier conceptions of the colonial past is demanded, instead new figurations and renarrations have been used to try to incorporate the new challenges to the historical imaginary into the older layers of memory without radically breaking away from it, creating somewhat surprising results that questions the notions of a uniform global memory and understanding of historical injustices.