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.
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.
Yankholmes, Aaron Kofi Badu, Oheneba Akwasi Akyeampong, and Laud Alfred Dei. ‘Residents’ Perceptions of Transatlantic Slave Trade Attractions for Heritage Tourism in Danish-Osu, Ghana’. Journal of Heritage Tourism, vol. 4, no. 4, Routledge, Nov. 2009, pp. 315–329.
Against the background of lingering controversy over the use of Transatlantic Slave Trade (TAST) relics for tourism ends, this paper sought to examine residents’ perceptions towards proposed promotion of heritage tourism based on TAST relics in Danish-Osu, a former slave site in Accra, capital of Ghana. A combination of both qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed during the fieldwork towards the end of 2007. A questionnaire survey captured 200 household heads in six communities while interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with other key stakeholders in the Danish-Osu community. Frequencies and percentages were used to demonstrate residents’ lay concepts of tourism, whereas the mean, t-test and one-way ANOVA were used to measure residents’ attitude towards heritage tourism. A major finding of the study is that residents’ perceive tourism from a cultural perspective because of the numerous TAST resources in the community. However, residents’ support for heritage tourism is influenced by place of residence. This suggested that irrespective of the place of residence, residents of Danish-Osu were found to be supportive of heritage products and activities. Implications were discussed in the context of how residents’ perceptions will affect preservation efforts at various stages of tourism planning.
Yankholmes, Aaron K. B., and Oheneba A. Akyeampong. ‘Tourists’ Perceptions of Heritage Tourism Development in Danish-Osu, Ghana’. International Journal of Tourism Research, vol. 12, no. 5, 2010, pp. 603–616.
This paper examines the tourist perceptions at Danish, Osu-Ghana within the dark tourism or slavery heritage contexts. Using Cohen’s (1979) typology of tourist experience, we differentiate between tourist knowledge of a heritage site relative to socio-demographic indices. The results indicate that tourists’ perception of Danish-Osu reflect their knowledge of the site in relation to its cultural heritage attributes. In addition, it was found that tourists have dual experiences of the site: those that relate to recreational pursuits of heritage sites and those that ascribe meanings based on their background. The contemporary nature and use of Transatlantic Slave Trade relics for tourism development makes the case of the Danish-Osu more delicate considering the ethical implications of interpreting the community’s past to tourists as the borderlines are unclear.
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.
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.
Røge, Pernille. ‘Why the Danes Got There First – A Trans-Imperial Study of the Abolition of the Danish Slave Trade in 1792’. Slavery & Abolition, vol. 35, no. 4, Routledge, Oct. 2014, pp. 576–592.
This article explores the causes and timing of the abolition of the Danish slave trade in 1792. While the existing historiography highlights economic and humanitarian considerations behind the decision to decree abolition of the slave trade and situates such concerns within a Danish context, this article looks at ways in which trans-imperial influences on the Danish government and commercial ties between the Danish colonial empire and other slave trading polities were equally important factors in the move towards abolition.
Peters, Rikke Alberg, Peter Yding Brunbech, Christina Louise Sørensen, and Jens Aage Poulsen. Da Danmark var en slavenation: om slaveriet og De Vestindiske Øer fra 1600-tallet til nu. 1. udgave, 1. oplag, Jelling: HistorieLab, 2016.
Olsen, Poul Erik. ‘I alle Maader i Lighed med den blanke Slægt : danske overvejelser om de vestindiske frikulørte 1815-18’. Danske magazin, 2010, pp. 193–239
Rettigheder og militærpligt for frigivne eller frikøbte slaver samt efterkommere af frifødte farvede.
Nielsen, Per. Fra slaveri til frihed: det dansk-vestindiske slavesamfund 1672-1848 : symposium den 3.juli 1998 på Nationalmuseet i anledning af 150-året for slaveriets ophør på de dansk-vestindiske øer. Kbh.: Nationalmuseet, 2001.
Jens Erik skydsgaard: Den antikke baggrund for det europæiske slaveri.
Erik Gøbel: De danske mennesketransporter over Atlanten.
Poul Erik Olsen: Fra ejendomsret til menneskeret.
Inge Mejer Antonsen: Slavesamfundet gengivet i tegninger og malerier.
Per Nielsen: Slaver og frie indbyggere 1780-1848.
Karen Fog Olwig: Privilegier og rettigheder som slave og fri – emancipationen på St. Jan. S
vend Einer Holsoe: A view of the emancipation rebellion on St. Croix : 150 years later.
Ole Justensen: Slaveri og emancipation på Guldkysten 1830-1850.
Jensen, Niklas Thode. ‘Safeguarding Slaves: Smallpox, Vaccination, and Governmental Health Policies among the Enslaved Population in the Danish West Indies, 1803-1848’. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 83, no. 1, 2009, pp. 95–124.
During the first half of the nineteenth century, a unique system of vaccination against smallpox was developed in the island of St. Croix in the Danish West Indies. The primary intention was to protect the population of enslaved workers, which was of fundamental importance to the economy of the colony. However, because the Danish abolition of the slave trade in 1803 had stopped the imports of new enslaved workers from Africa, the population was also decreasing. The vaccination system’s success was due to a high degree of governmental control of the enslaved population that was virtually unseen anywhere else in the Caribbean.
Hopkins, Daniel P. ‘The Danish Ban on the Atlantic Slave Trade and Denmark’s African Colonial Ambitions, 1787–1807’. Itinerario, vol. 25, no. 3–4, Cambridge University Press, Nov. 2001, pp. 154–184.
On 16 March 1792, King Christian VII of Denmark, his own incompetent hand guided by that of the young Crown Prince Frederik (VI), signed decree banning both the importation of slaves into the Danish West Indies (now the United States Virgin Islands) and their export from the Danish establishments on the Guinea Coast, in what is now Ghana. To soften the blow to the planters of the Danish West Indies and to secure the continued production of sugar, the law was not to take effect for ten years. In the meantime, imports of slaves, and of women especially, would actually encouraged by state loans and favourable tariffs, so as, it was hoped, render the slave population capable of reproducing itself naturally thereafter.
Marselis, Randi. ‘Descendants of Slaves: The Articulation of Mixed Racial Ancestry in a Danish Television Documentary Series’. European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 11, no. 4, SAGE Publications Ltd, Nov. 2008, pp. 447–469.
The aim of the Danish television documentary series Slavernes Slægt (Descendants of Slaves, 2005) has been to enhance public awareness of Danish colonial history. As is typical of contemporary mediated memories, the account of national history is combined with `small histories’ that focus on live stories of individuals and their families. Participating in the series are present-day descendants of enslaved Africans who, as a result of an interest in family historical research, have found information about their black ancestry. The series challenges the supposed historical homogeneity of Nordic nation-states by pointing out the historical presence of black individuals. However, this article will show how discourses of family history (e.g. the focus on bloodlines) converge with old `race’ theory; the result of which is that the series inadvertently reproduces processes of visual Othering.