These lesson plans delve deep into the pivotal event of the 1878 Fireburn, a significant labor uprising in the Virgin Islands. Rooted in the struggles for human rights, freedom from serfdom variants, and improved labor conditions, the Fireburn stands as a testament to the resilience and courage of estate laborers like Mary Thomas, Axeline Salomon, Mathilde McBean, and Susanna Abramson. Through a series of interactive activities, multimedia resources, and critical discussions, students will journey through the socio-political landscape of the former Danish West Indies, understanding the factors leading up to the uprising and its profound aftermath. The module aims to not only educate but also instill a sense of pride and recognition of the sacrifices made by those who stood up against oppression, shaping the fabric of our heritage and the equity we cherish today in the Virgin Islands of the United States.
ASF presented a virtual conversation between artists Jeanette Ehlers and La Vaughn Belle on “Race in the Colonial Past and Present,” moderated by Ursula Lindqvist, exploring the history of Denmark's colonial presence in the mid-17th century and how it has since affected representation.
In 2018, Virgin Islands artist La Vaughn Belle and Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers created the monumental public sculpture entitled I AM QUEEN MARY, the first collaborative sculpture to memorialize Denmark’s colonial impact in the Caribbean and those who fought against it. In this program, listen to the two artists discuss colonialism and how commemorative representations can impact the public discourse surrounding Danish colonial history. What do these representations mean for people of African descent living in the Nordic Countries? What do they mean to the Virgin Islands? And how can they intervene in the historic, current and future relationship between Denmark and the Virgin Islands?
Tami Navarro in conversation with Tamara Nopper
The forthcoming book, Virgin Capital: Race, Gender, and Financialization in the US Virgin Islands (2021) by Tami Navarro examines the cultural impact and historical significance of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) in the United States Virgin Islands. A tax holiday program, the EDC encourages financial services companies to relocate to these American-owned islands in exchange for an exemption from 90% of income taxes, and to stimulate the economy by hiring local workers and donating to local charitable causes. As a result of this program, the largest and poorest of these islands—St. Croix—has played host to primarily US financial firms and their white managers, leading to reinvigorated anxieties around the costs of racial capitalism and a feared return to the racial and gender order that ruled the islands during slavery. Drawing on fieldwork conducted during the boom years leading up to the 2008–2009 financial crisis, Virgin Capital provides ethnographic insight into the continuing relations of coloniality at work in the quintessentially “modern” industry of financial services and neoliberal “development” regimes, with their grounding in hierarchies of race, gender, class, and geopolitical positioning.
Tami Navarro will discuss her new book with Tamara K. Knopper, scholar of race and financialization, the racial-gender wealth gap, criminalization, and Black-Asian solidarities and conflicts.