On April 22, 2021, Wagner College virtually hosted (via Zoom) a guest speaker from Aarhus University in Denmark. Professor Mads Anders Baggesgaard spoke to the students of Wagner history professor Rita Reynolds and English professor Steven W. Thomas and others in the audience on the topic of Denmark's historical role in the transatlantic slave trade. Baggesgaard is a professor of comparative literature in the school of communications and culture and has distinguished himself with many scholarly publications on the topic. He is editor of the Danish literary journal Passage and the director of Aarhus University's Centre for the Study of the Literatures and Cultures of Slavery. His centre intends to publish a multi-volume collection of scholarly work on Slavery, Authorship, and Literary Culture that will include a chapter by Wagner's Professor Thomas on "cinematic slavery." Thomas also presented a brief introduction of his study of how slavery is represented in film and television to Aarhus University students earlier in the semester.
Professor Baggesgaard's presentation to Wagner was titled "Small State Colonialism." He introduced the Danish role in colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade while thoughtfully and critically reflecting on how that role is remembered today. He demonstrated that the Danish self-understanding based on its "smallness" has problematically enabled a perception of its inherent innocence. This self-perception is often expressed as an enjoyment of distant guilt in such cultural productions as the recent Danish film The Gold Coast. This sort of self-congratulatory expression perhaps unintentionally reinscribes a peculiar sort of racism that he calls hyggeracisme.
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