Wagner, Thorsten. ‘Jøder og andre danskere. Den nyere antisemitismeforskning og dens implikationer for dansk historieskrivning: en forskningsoversigt’. Nordisk judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies, vol. 22, no. 2, 2, Sept. 2001, pp. 157–192.
Due to the national narrative of successful integration of Danish Jews and their heroic rescue from Nazi persecution, a critical investigation of the relationship between Jews and Non-Jews in 19th and 20th century Danish society has been neglected until recently. The article discusses recent developments in the field of antisemitism as well as a new appreciation of the cultural dimension of anti-Jewish stereotyping have been instrumental in a new understanding of anti-semitism. Together with a growing awareness of the interrelationship between the construction of the nation and the politics of exclusion, these trends have created new grounds for historical research. It is argued that this new generation of research also calls for a rewriting of Danish history “from the margins”: The liberal democratic political culture that informed the formation of the Danish nation state did not do without exclusionist practices-on the contrary, it implied a rejection of cultural or ethnic heterogeneity. Instead of exonerating Danish antisemitism by self-serving comparisons, a fresh view on Danish-Jewish relations in modern times promises new insights into the development of Danish national identity, oscillating between inclusion and exclusion.
Bundsgaard, Mads Tobias. ‘Vilje og antisemitisme i Lykke-Per’. Rambam. Tidsskrift for jødisk kultur og forskning, vol. 24, no. 1, 1, 2015.
Antisemitism in Lucky Per This article examines Henrik Pontoppidan’s novel Lucky Per (Danish: Lykke-Per) by bringing two perspectives into focus: a Jewish and an anti-Semitic. The article begins with a count of all the animal characteristics that are used to describe the characters in the novel. The count makes it clear, that Jews and non-Jews are equally described as possessing these animal characteristics. The argument that the author is anti-Semite biased is in this way disproved. Further, the article documents the anti-Semitism that is present in the time-span of the novel (1864-1905) in Copenhagen and in Berlin. That is, the raw, the mild and the structural anti-Semitism. The novel is seen as a well-informed portrayal of the period. The clerical family of Sidenius and the secular Jewish family of Salomon are the main foci of the analysis; especially the son Per Sidenius (Lucky Per) and the daughter Jakobe. The anti-Semitism, as it is described in the novel, is compared to historical literature throughout the article. In relation to the time of publication of the novel, the article accepts the general racial attitudes of the population, and the progress of the Jewish character Jakobe is interpreted as a Nietzschean act of will. The article ends by concluding that the author of the novel wants to prove that, in spite of everything, a Jewish woman is capable of forcing her way through an anti-Semitic society.
Winsnes, Selena Axelrod. A Danish Jew in West Africa. Wulf Joseph Wulff Biography And Letters 1836-1842. Legon-Accra, Ghana: African Books Collective, 2013.
Wulff’s life history is of considerable interest in itself. In her biographical essay (Part I) Selena Axelrod Winsnes portrays him as a ‘marginal man’: being a Jew in Denmark at the beginning of the 19th century was to some extent an uphill struggle for those who sought public recognition, and Wulff did not escape discrimination in his administrative career at Christiansborg either, although special circumstances allowed him to hold important positions, and yet, only for the short term. Paradoxically, on his arrival to the Gold Coast Wulff – as a Jew – was placed in a middle position in the racial hierarchy dominating the mind-set of his superiors in Copenhagen in-between Africans and Europeans. In many respects he shared the fate of Euro-Africans, straddling two worlds and being ‘sealed off’ from the top echelons of the European establishments on the Coast. This book comprises two parts. The first is a biographical presentation of Wulff Joseph Wulff a Danish Jew. It is an essay concerning the last six years of his life, spent on the Gold Coast of West Africa, based on letters he wrote to his family in Denmark. Those letters were published in 1917 as Da Guinea var Dansk [When Guinea was Danish], by Carl Behrens, a member of his family in Denmark. The second part of the book is an edited translation of the letters from Danish into English.
Weiss, Holger. ‘The European and Eurafrican Population of the Danish Forts on the Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast’. African Economic History, vol. 46, no. 1, University of Wisconsin Press, 2018, pp. 36–68,
This essay focuses on the demographic consequences of entanglement in the Danish possessions on the Gold Coast in West Africa. Two sets of data will be analyzed, one on the European composition of the Danish enclaves and discusses demographic trends and ruptures, the other on the Eurafrican population in the Danish enclaves. The first part of the study focusses on the survival of the European personnel in the Danish possessions on the Gold Coast. Similar to the experience of other European trading nations in West Africa, the Guinea Coast was a ‘White Man’s Grave’ for the Danish personnel as about half of the newly arrived staff members died within the first year on the coast. The second part deals with the employment and careers of the Eurafricans, i.e., the children of Danish fathers and local African or Eurafrican women. While the Danish authorities enlisted some of the Eurafrican boys as military staff members, the fate of the Eurafrican girls was unclear. In contrast to the Europeans, the Eurafrican population seldom succumbed to the coastal climate. Instead, demographic data suggests that their life expectancy was relatively high, at least compared to that of the European personnel.
Weiss, Holger. ‘The Danish Gold Coast as a Multinational and Entangled Space, c. 1700–1850’. Scandinavian Colonialism and the Rise of Modernity, 2013, 243–260,
This chapter gives an outline of the intertwined multiple cultural and social dynamics in the Danish enclaves and their hinterlands on the Gold Coast (Ghana) during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Similar to the other European ports of exchange, the Danish forts had been built next to African settlements. The interaction between the Europeans and the Africans had created a multicultural and transnational space where expressions of early modern proto-globalisation intermingled with local cultures of particular societies. Apart from discussing the multinational composition of the Danish personnel, the chapter highlights the African and Euro-African spaces at Danish Accra, focusing on how foreign cultural artefacts and ideas were combined with local ones.
Lunde, Arne, and Anna Westerstahl Stenport. ‘Helga Crane’s Copenhagen: Denmark, Colonialism, and Transnational Identity in Nella Larsen’s “Quicksand”’. Comparative Literature, vol. 60, no. 3, [Duke University Press, University of Oregon], 2008, pp. 228–243.
Ipsen, Pernille. ‘“The Christened Mulatresses”: Euro-African Families in a Slave-Trading Town’. The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 70, no. 2, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2013, pp. 371–398.
In the 1760s “Mulatresse Lene” was cassaret (married) to Danish interim governor and slave trader Frantz Joachim Kühberg in Osu on the Gold Coast. The local history of Ga-Danish families such as hers in Osu illustrates how Euro-African women on the West African coast could benefit from marrying European slave traders and could use these marriages to expand their room for maneuver in the coastal society. By marrying European men, christening their children, and sending them to the church school at the Danish fort, Euro-African women claimed a powerful intermediary position in the racialized social hierarchy of the Atlantic slave trade, and as they did so they helped reproduce this same racial hierarchy. Yet Euro-African families were not just taking advantage of their position to widen their opportunities; they were also using it as a means of protection in a violent and stressful slave-trading environment. At the height of the slave trade in the second half of the eighteenth century, Africans participating in the slave trade—even elite Euro-Africans such as Kühberg and her family—were under pressure to protect themselves and their families from being sold across the Atlantic.
Ipsen, Pernille. ‘Sexualizing the Other: From Ethnopornography to Interracial Pornography in European Travel Writing about West African Women’. Ethno-Pornography: Sexuality, Colonialism, and Archival Knowledge, Eds. Peter Herman Sigal, Zeb Tortorici, and Neil L Whitehead, 2020.
Ipsen, Pernille. ‘“Plant Ikke Upas-Træet Om Vor Bolig”: Colonial Haunting, Race, and Interracial Marriage in Hans Christian Andersen’s Mulatten (1840)’. Scandinavian Studies, vol. 88, no. 2, Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, University of Illinois Press, 2016, pp. 129–158.
Ipsen, Pernille. Koko’s Daughters: Danish Men Marrying Ga Women in an Atlantic Slave Trading Port in the Eighteenth Century. Dissertation. Københavns Universistet, 2008,
Ipsen, Pernille. Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.
Severine Brock’s first language was Ga, yet it was not surprising when, in 1842, she married Edward Carstensen. He was the last governor of Christiansborg, the fort that, in the eighteenth century, had been the center of Danish slave trading in West Africa. She was the descendant of Ga-speaking women who had married Danish merchants and traders. Their marriage would have been familiar to Gold Coast traders going back nearly 150 years. In Daughters of the Trade, Pernille Ipsen follows five generations of marriages between African women and Danish men, revealing how interracial marriage created a Euro-African hybrid culture specifically adapted to the Atlantic slave trade.
Although interracial marriage was prohibited in European colonies throughout the Atlantic world, in Gold Coast slave-trading towns it became a recognized and respected custom. Cassare, or ‘keeping house,’ gave European men the support of African women and their kin, which was essential for their survival and success, while African families made alliances with European traders and secured the legitimacy of their offspring by making the unions official.
For many years, Euro-African families lived in close proximity to the violence of the slave trade. Sheltered by their Danish names and connections, they grew wealthy and influential. But their powerful position on the Gold Coast did not extend to the broader Atlantic world, where the link between blackness and slavery grew stronger, and where Euro-African descent did not guarantee privilege. By the time Severine Brock married Edward Carstensen, their world had changed. Daughters of the Trade uncovers the vital role interracial marriage played in the coastal slave trade, the production of racial difference, and the increasing stratification of the early modern Atlantic world.
Weiss, Holger, editor. ‘Ports of Globalisation, Places of Creolisation: Nordic Possessions in the Atlantic World during the Era of the Slave Trade’. Ports of Globalisation, Places of Creolisation, Brill, 2021
This anthology addresses and analyses the transformation of interconnected spaces and spatial entanglements in the Atlantic rim during the era of the slave trade by focusing on the Danish possessions on the Gold Coast and their Caribbean islands of Saint Thomas, Saint Jan and Saint Croix as well as on the Swedish Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy. The first part of the anthology addresses aspects of interconnectedness in West Africa, in particular the relationship between Africans and Danes on the Gold Coast. The second part of this volume examines various aspects of interconnectedness, creolisation and experiences of Danish and Swedish slave rules in the Caribbean.
Vallgårda, Karen A. A. ‘Tying Children to God With Love: Danish Mission, Childhood, and Emotions in Colonial South India’. Journal of Religious History, vol. 39, no. 4, 2015, pp. 595–613.
The article examines the politics of emotions, conversion, and childhood in the Danish Protestant Christian mission around the turn of the twentieth century in colonial South India. The emotional configuration of childhood that came to prevail in the Danish missionary community at this time was informed by a particular notion of the importance of intimate and tender feelings to the constitution of a rich Christian life. In order to win the children’s hearts for Christ, they had to be treated gently, even lovingly. The article shows how this sentimentalisation of childhood simultaneously served to displace Indian adults and parents and to include Indian children into what one might call the missionaries’ emotional community. And, while the ideal of gentle intimacy rendered corporal punishment less socially acceptable in the education of children, it involved a different kind of power — less tangible and visible, and therefore perhaps also more difficult to contest. As such, the article discloses the highly ambiguous political anatomy of love.
Vallgårda, Karen. ‘Can the Subaltern Woman Run? Gender, Race and Agency in Colonial Missionary Texts’. Scandinavian Journal of History, vol. 39, no. 4, Routledge, Aug. 2014, pp. 472–486.
This article challenges the contention that it is not feasible to trace the agency of subaltern female subjects in colonial documents without at the same time distorting and even violating that very agency. Taking as its prism a letter written by a male Danish missionary chronicling a young Pariah woman’s escape from missionary control in early 20th-century South India, it argues that while a search for authentic, autonomous agency is a highly dubious endeavour, relinquishing attempts to recover the acts and interventions of persons at the bottom of social hierarchies is equally problematic. Suggesting a reading ‘along as well as against the grain’, the article tracks the ways in which the subaltern woman’s agency has been simultaneously recorded and denied, and argues for the necessity of probing both the possibilities and impossibilities presented by this type of a source.
Vallgårda, K. Imperial Childhoods and Christian Mission: Education and Emotions in South India and Denmark. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2015
Making an important addition to the highly Britain-dominated field of imperial studies, this book shows that, like numerous other evangelicals operating throughout the colonized world at this time, Danish missionaries invested remarkable resources in the education of different categories children in both India and Denmark.
Thisted, Kirsten. ‘“Where Once Dannebrog Waved for More than 200 Years”: Banal Nationalism, Narrative Templates and Post-Colonial Melancholia’. Review of Development and Change, vol. 14, Dec. 2009, pp. 147–172.
Thisted, Kirsten. ‘Hvor Dannebrog engang har vajet i mer end 200 Aar’. Tranquebar Initiativets Skriftserie, vol. 2, 2008, p. 55.
Artiklen fokuserer på Sophie Petersens Danmarks gamle Tropekolonier, 1946: Et værk som spidsformulerer fortællingen om Danmark som et gennemført humanistisk og retfærdighedshung-rende lilleputland, der ironisk nok ofrer sine stormagts-potentialer netop for retfærdighedens skyld, men af den grund vinder så meget desto større ære på det etiske og moralske plan. Fortællingen lader til først at finde sin færdige formulering efter salget af den sidste tropekoloni, måske som en form for forklaring og kompensation herpå, men får samtidig en afgørende rolle i Danmarks legitimering af kravet på (hele) Grønland, ligesom fortællingen i 1940-erne og 50 erne får yderligere relevans i forbindelse med Anden Verdenskrig og den efterfølgende afkolonisering.
Sophie Petersens værk blev modtaget med begejstring både af anmeldere og læsere og er citeret igen og igen, ikke blot i de følgende år, blandt andet i et værk som Vore gamle Tropekolonier (Brøndsted red., 1952-53), men også i nutiden, hvor den ideale nationale fortælling fortsat skriver sig igennem, selv i tilfælde hvor den eksplicitte hensigt ellers har været at kreere en modfortælling. Fænomenet søges forklaret ud fra teorier om nation, erindring og fortælling, ligesom det diskuteres, hvorvidt en fortsat interesse i de tidligere kolonier alene skal ses som udslag af en ”postkolonial melankoli”, som reaktion mod globalisering, migration og ændrede geopolitiske og racemæssige magtbalancer, eller om der måske (også) kan være tale om en mere positiv bestræbelse på udsyn og møder over grænser.
‘Slagmark #75: Koloniale Aftryk’. Slagmark #75: Koloniale Aftryk, 2017.
Myter og realiteter i Jomfruøernes historie af Arnold Highfield
Dansk Vestindiens helte og heltinder af Rikke Lie Halberg & Bertha Rex Coley
Toldbodens nye dronning – den danske kolonialismes im/materielle aftryk af Emilie Paaske Drachmann
Tingene sat på plads: Om afrikaneres bidrag til etableringen af byen Christiansted på St. Croix af George F. Tyson
Museale formidlinger af fortiden som kolonimagt på danske og britiske museer af Vibe Nielsen
”Let’s Put the Background to the Foreground!” – nostalgi, turisme og iscenesættelse af en dansk kolonial fortid på de tidligere vestindiske øer af Pernille Østergaard Hansen
I kølvandet – levedygtighed og koloniale økologier ved havnen på St. Thomas af Nathalia Brichet & Frida Hastrup
Kærligheden og de druknedes land – interview med Tiphanie Yanique af Astrid Nonbo Andersen & Sine Jensen Smed
Simonsen, Gunvor. ‘Sovereignty, Mastery, and Law in the Danish West Indies, 1672–1733’. Itinerario, vol. 43, no. 2, Cambridge University Press, Aug. 2019, pp. 283–304.
In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, officers of the Danish West India and Guinea Company struggled to balance the sovereignty of the company with the mastery of St. Thomas’ and St. John’s slave owners. This struggle was central to the making of the laws that controlled enslaved Africans and their descendants. Slave laws described slave crime and punishment, yet they also contained descriptions of the political entities that had the power to represent and execute the law. Succeeding governors of St. Thomas and St. John set out to align claims about state sovereignty with masters’ prerogatives, and this balancing act shaped the substance of slave law in the Danish West Indies. Indeed, the slave laws pronounced by and the legal thinking engaged in by island governors suggest that sovereignty was never a stable state of affairs in the Danish West Indies. It was always open to renegotiation as governors, with varying degrees of loyalty to the company and at times with questionable capability, strove to determine what sovereignty ought to look like in a time of slavery.
Simonsen, Gunvor. Slave Stories: Law, Representation, and Gender in the Danish West Indies. Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2017.
In the Danish West Indies, hundreds of enslaved men and women and a handful of Danish judges engaged in a broken, often distorted dialogue in court. Their dialogue was shaped by a shared concern with the ways slavery clashed with sexual norms and family life. Some enslaved men and women crafted respectable Christian self-portraits, which in time allowed victims of sexual abuse and rape to publicly narrate their experiences. Other slaves stressed African-Atlantic traditions when explaining their domestic conflicts. Yet these gripping stories did not influence the legal system. While the judges cunningly embraced slave testimony, they also reached guilty verdicts in most trials and punished with extreme brutality. Slaves spoke, but mostly to no avail. In ‘Slave Stories’, Gunvor Simonsen reconstructs the narratives crafted by slaves and traces the distortions instituted by Danish West Indian legal practice. In doing so, she draws us closer to the men and women who lived in bondage in the Danish West Indies (present-day US Virgin Islands) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Simonsen, Gunvor. ‘Skin Colour as a Tool of Regulation and Power in the Danish West Indies in the Eighteenth Century’. Journal of Caribbean History, vol. 37, no. 2, 2003, pp. 256–276.
This article focuses on the process of “encolouring” social reality in the Caribbean. This is done by investigating how connections between status and colour were created in the Danish West Indies by using certain strategies and techniques of power. Essential to the regulatory efforts of planters and officials were three variables: time, space and body. By the manipulation of these phenomena colonial masters managed to make skin colour represent something other than itself. It came to be associated with a web of ideas concerning the constitution of society and its subjects – their status, condition and opportunities in life.
Simonsen, Gunvor. ‘Magic, Obeah and Law in the Danish West Indies, 1750s–1840s’. Ports of Globalisation, Places of Creolisation, edited by Holger Weiss , Brill, Jan. 2016, pp. 245–279.
Simonsen, Gunvor. ‘Legality Outside the Courtroom:: Practices of Law and Law Enforcement in the Danish West Indies at the End of the Eighteenth Century’. Quaderni Fiorentini per La Storia Del Pensiero Giuridico Moderno, vol. 33, no. 2, A. Giuffrè, 2004, pp. 921–961.
Sielemann, Rasmus Basse. Natures of Conduct: Governmentality and the Danish West Indies. Dissertation. University of Copenhagen, 2015,
This dissertation analyzes the processes of governmentality in the Danish West Indies from the late eighteenth century to the end of Danish rule in 1917. The theoretical framework of the analysis is constructed from a reading of Michel Foucault’s work in the late 1970s on the problematics, techniques, and rationalities of government in Western Europe. Foucault’s investigations took the form of a historical genealogy that he referred to as “the history of governmentality.” He argued that governmentality deployed itself as a configuration of dispositions of power in the form of “economies of power.” This theoretical framework is applied in three chapters that analyses the biopolitics of slavery, the government of penal techniques, and the political economy of labor after slavery respectively. The dissertation argues that parallel to the development of governmental practice in Europe, programs of government in the Danish West Indies were increasingly premised on the reality and sanctity of the nature of “population,” “society,” and “economy” that would have to be respected and taken into consideration. This principle also extended to a conception of the nature of the Afro-Caribbean colonial subjects. The conformity and adherence to the perceived naturalness of colonial subjects had the unintended effect of stifling projects of social progress in the area of penitentiary reform as well as the organization of labor. In the weighing of utility and freedom, the “nature of the negro” tipped the scale towards prioritizing utility. As a result, the freedom of former slaves was limited to the extent that they manifested their disscontempt in violent riots and strikes. To interpret this development simply as a retreat to repressive forms of power and the failure of liberal principles in the colonial context, clouds the complex character of liberal governmentality in general. The limitation of Afro-Caribbean freedoms was not installed in spite of liberal rationalities, but in conformity with an ambivalent logic of improvement inherent in liberalism itself.
Denne afhandling analyserer de dansk vestindiske øers guvernementalitets- processer fra slutningen af attenhunderedetallet til afslutningen af det danske herredømme i 1917. Analysens teoretiske ramme bygger på en læsning af Michel Foucaults arbejde i slutningen af 1970’erne med ledelsesproblematikker, -teknikker og -rationaliteter i Vesteuropa. Foucaults undersøgelser udformede sig som en historisk genealogi, hvilket han omtalt som “guvernementalitetens historie.” Han hævdede, at ledelsesrationalitet indsatte sig selv som en konfiguration af dispositioner af magt i form af ‘magt-økonomier.’ Denne teoretiske ramme anvendes i tre kapitler, der henholdsvis analyserer slaveriets biopolitik, ledelsen af straffeteknikker og arbejdskraftens politisk økonomi efter slaveriets ophævelse. Afhandlingen argumenterer for, at parallelt med udviklingen af ledelsespraksis i Europa, blev begreberne ‘befolkning’, ‘samfund’ og ‘økonomi’ tildelt en naturlig virkelighed og hellighed, som politiske programmer i Dansk Vestindien i stigende grad var nødsaget til at respektere og tage højde for. Dette princip var også gældende for opfattelsen af de afro-caribiske subjekters natur. Den forudfattede tilpasningen af ledelsesteknikker til de koloniale subjekters naturlighed, havde den utilsigtede effekt, at sociale fremskridtsprocesser i forhold til reformer af straffevæsenet, samt organiseringen af arbejdskraft, blev bremset. I afvejningen af ‘nytte’ i forhold til ‘frihed,’ havde “negerens natur” den effekt at nytte blev prioriteret højest. Som følge heraf blev de tidligere slavers frihed begrænset i en sådan grad, at de manifesterede deres modstand i form af voldelige optøjer og strejker. At fortolke denne udvikling blot som en tilbagevending til repressive former for magt og mislykkede liberale principper i den koloniale kontekst, skygger for den liberale ledelsesrationalitets kompleksitet. Begrænsningen af afro-caribiernes friheder blev ikke installeret på trods af liberale ledelsesprincipper, men i overensstemmelse med en ambivalent forbedringslogik, indlejret i selve liberalimens ledelsesrationalitet.
Rud, Søren. ‘Policing and Governance in Greenland. Rationalities of Police and Colonial Rule 1860-1953’. in Policing in Colonial Empires Cases, Connections, Boundaries (ca. 1850–1970), Peter Lang, 2017.
Fra indledning: The history of policing in colonial Greenland could be a very short one. An actual centrally-controlled police force was established only as late as 1951, when the colonial period was almost officially over (1953) and the new policy was to gradually integrate Greenland into the Danish realm. In light of the absence of an actual police force, I wish to raise issues concerning law and order in colonial Greenland: which techniques and practices were used to maintain order, and what can these practices tell us about the nature of the colonial project in Greenland? Policing practices are subsequently used as a lens rendering the rationality and techniques of the colonial project in Greenland visible. A short presentation of some currents within the historiography of colonial policing and postcolonial theory in general is useful to set the stage for the analysis. Colonial policing activities often intersected with military purposes and took varied shapes, depending on the period and context. Generally, however, essential to the colonial rule was the police officer – both in a symbolic and in a practical way. As Anderson and Killingray put it, the colonial police officer was “the most visible symbol of colonial rule”. Furthermore, in many cases the policeman was the sole representative of colonial authority in a vast territory.