CFP: Denmark and the Black Atlantic (Denmark) (12/1/05; 5/4/06-5/6/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Martyn Bone
contact email: 


Thursday 4 May to Saturday 6 May 2006

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Organised by the Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies

Keynote Speakers:

Professor George Hutchinson (Indiana University), author of _The Harlem
Renaissance in Black and White_ (Harvard UP, 1995) and _From the Shadows: A
New Life of Nella Larsen_ (forthcoming, Harvard UP, 2006)

Candace Allen, author of the novel _Valaida_ (Virago, 2004)

Alex Frank Larsen, journalist and director of Danmark Radio 2's television
documentary series _Slavernes Slægt_ (2005)

TBC: Historian of Danish West Indies/Virgin Islands


In 1993, Paul Gilroy theorized the Black Atlantic as a "rhizomorphic,
fractural structure of transcultural exchange" that is "continually
crisscrossed by the movements of black people-not only as commodities [e.g.,
during the transatlantic slave trade] but engaged in various struggles
towards emancipation, autonomy, and citizenship." Tracing the transatlantic
movements and cultural productions of a wide range of diasporic black
activists and artists, Gilroy's monograph The Black Atlantic has had a
profound impact on subsequent scholarship across a wide range of disciplines
including postcolonial studies, American studies, African American studies,
Caribbean studies, history, geography, and English studies.

The theme and focus of this conference departs from a question that Gilroy
poses: "What of Nella Larsen's relationship to Denmark, where George Padmore
was held in jail during the early 1930s and which was also the home base of
his banned paper the Negro Worker, circulated across the world by its
supporters in the Colonial Seamen's Association?" Over three days, "Denmark
and the Black Atlantic" will explore these and other questions regarding the
role of Denmark and its former Caribbean colonies, the Danish West Indies
(now the Virgin Islands), in the Black Atlantic world. The conference also
offers the opportunity to assess and advance recent developments in both
international scholarship and Danish public culture which have focused
attention on different facets of Denmark's role in Black Atlantic history.
In 1997, George Hutchinson overturned the scholarly consensus that Nella
Larsen, the biracial, U.S.-born daughter of a Danish mother and Danish West
Indian father, never visited Denmark (despite Larsen's own claims to the
contrary) by disclosing archival evidence of Larsen's transatlantic travels
between New York and Copenhagen. In early 2005, the Danish public television
channel DR2 aired a documentary series, _Slavernes Slægt_, which traced the
mixed-racial heritage of contemporary Danes, in the process sparking renewed
media and public interest in Denmark's colonial and slave-trading history.
In April 2005, a delegation from the Virgin Islands visited Denmark to
discuss the legacy of this history; discussions regarding reparations,
memorials, and other projects are ongoing.

Conference events will include:

 An opening reception and concert at Copenhagen Jazzhouse
 Keynote speakers George Hutchinson, talking about Nella Larsen and
Denmark; Candace Allen, reading from and discussing her novel Valaida (2004)
about African-American jazz musician Valaida Snow and her imprisonment in
Denmark during World War II; and Alex Frank Larsen, discussing his
documentary series _Slavernes Slægt_
 A walking tour of Nella Larsen's Copenhagen

This call for papers invites proposals for both individual presentations and
collective panels that relate to the overall conference theme. Subjects
might include, but are not confined to, the following:

 Denmark's role in the transatlantic slave trade
 The colonial history of the Danish West Indies
 Slave and labour revolts in the Danish West Indies (e.g., the 1733
St. John slave rebellion; the 1848 "emancipation revolt"; the 1878 St.
Croix "Fireburn" revolt)
 Comparative approaches to New World slavery in the Danish West
Indies and elsewhere (the British West Indies, the United States, etc.)
 Anti-slavery activism in Denmark
 The sale of the Danish West Indies/the Virgin Islands to the United
States in 1917
 Comparative approaches to Danish and U.S. power in the Danish West
Indies/the Virgin Islands
 The U.S. occupation of the Virgin Islands, 1917-1936
 Danish West Indian/Virgin Islanders' relationships and/or visits to
 The debate over Danish reparations to the Virgin Islands
 Political activists from the Danish West Indies/Virgin Islands
(e.g., Edward Blyden, Hubert Harrison, Arthur Schomburg, Frank Crosswaith,
Elizabeth Hendricksen, Ashley Totten)
 Virgin Islanders in New York during the Harlem Renaissance (e.g.,
Casper Holstein, Hubert Harrison, etc.)
 The civil rights movement in the Virgin Islands
 George Padmore and Denmark
 Reconsideration of writing by Danes about the Danish West Indies
and/or transatlantic slave trade (e.g., Thorkild Hansen)
 Alex Frank Larsen/DR2's documentary series Slavernes Slægt (2005)
 Representations of Denmark in African-American literature (e.g.,
Larsen's _Quicksand_, Richard Wright's "Big Black Good Man", Candace Allen's
 Nella Larsen and Denmark
 William H. Johnson (African-American artist) and Denmark
 Representations of blacks and/or "mulattoes" in Danish art history
 Racial primitivism in Danish culture
 Transatlantic musical migrations in Danish culture
 African-American vaudeville in early twentieth-century Copenhagen
 Jazz Age Copenhagen
 African-American jazz musicians in Denmark (e.g., Louis Armstrong,
Ben Webster, Valaida Snow, Dexter Gordon, etc.)
 Danish jazz music
 Reggae in Denmark (Danish concerts by Jamaican artists; Danish
performers, etc.)
 The influence of African-American and/or transnational hip-hop
culture in Denmark
 Danish hip-hop
 Visual and/or textual representations of African-American life in
Danish culture (e.g., Jacob Holdt's _Amerikanske Billeder_/_American
Pictures_, Lars Von Trier's _Manderlay_)
 African-American and/or Caribbean culture in Danish travel writing

The main language of the conference will be English, but proposals for
papers/panels in Danish are welcome. Individual papers should be a maximum
of 20 minutes in length; 90 minutes will be assigned to each panel, with
three speakers each and half an hour for discussion. However, we also
welcome proposals for other, less conventional presentations, and will do
our best to fit them into the conference schedule. If there is sufficient
interest, we will consider extending the conference to Sunday
7 May.

Please send individual paper and collective panel proposals to the
conference organising committee at by 1 December 2005.
Enquiries can be directed to the same address.

Conference costs are currently being finalised but we anticipate that the
basic registration fee will be approximately 600 Danish kroner, with
optional extras of 150 Danish kroner for the opening concert in Copenhagen
Jazzhouse and 60 Danish kroner for the Nella Larsen walking tour.

The "Denmark and the Black Atlantic" organising committee is:

Dr. Martyn Bone
Anne Dvinge
Dr. Justin Edwards
Dr. Carl Pedersen
(All Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies, University of

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Received on Tue Aug 09 2005 - 09:59:09 EDT