Colonial memories in the Atlantic Area discussed

At this year’s Science Festival of the Humanities (University of Iceland), three colleagues and I contributed with a session about colonial memory narratives.


The age of colonialism and imperialism, which has had a profound influence on the Atlantic area formally belongs to history, but its cultural heritage survives in the form of language policies, ideas about national identity, historical narratives and racism. The aim of our seminar at this year’s Hugvísindathing was to explore the relationship of visual and performing arts with present-day representations of history in the post-colonial era. Which role did artworks play in the formation of colonial logic in previous centuries and how does modern art use colonial archives today? In order to get an insight into aspects of the colonial past of the Atlantic area, the seminar provided lectures on the afterlife of both French and Danish colonial history as it has been mediated through artworks by Ólöf Nordal, Julie Edel Hardenberg, Inuk Silis-Høegh, Molière, Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir and others.

Artist Ólöf Nordal, art historian Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, literary scholar Toby E. Wickström,  and I discussed examples that show commonalities and differences in how colonial memory is processed in art from the former French and Danish empires.

We thank all guests for participating in the discussion and look forward to keeping up the dialogue between the art scene and academia.


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