Henrik Hertz, Haiti and the Rights of the “Free Coloured” from a Danish Perspective

5:00pm - 6:00pm / Wednesday 29th November 2017 / Venue: Seminar Room 5 Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Research / Series: Centre for the Study of International Slavery
  • Suitable for: All are welcome. No registration required.
  • Admission: Admission is free. All are welcome
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In her talk, after an introductory note on the Danish colonial engagement in the Caribbean, Sine Jensen Smed presents a novel from 1836 called The Free Coloured written by the Danish author Henrik Hertz. The Free Coloured takes place in The Danish West Indies in the early 19th century. Sine argues that in his novel, through the two protagonists Arthur and Marguerite Hocqueville, Hertz describes a new group of (potential) political subjects - the free people of colour, who suffer denial of legal rights and a second range position in colonial society at the time. This description harmonizes with new colonial policy in Denmark at the end of the 1820s and the beginning of the 1830s, in which the free people of colour in the Danish West Indies were put on equal terms with the white part of the population in 1834. The new understanding of the free people of colour, also influences the way Hertz interprets the Haitian revolution; he sees it in the light of the American Revolution, where people fought against the English oppressors for their legal rights.

This is presented by Sine Jensen Smed is a literary scholar from Aarhus University, Denmark. In her on-going PhD project, she studies Danish literary representations of the colonies in the Caribbean, with emphasis on descriptions of the free people of colour in the first half of the 19th century. She is part of the literary research project ‘Reading Slavery’ based at the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Aarhus, and supported by a generous funding from the Velux Foundation. ‘Reading Slavery’ aims to provide descriptions of the cultural and literary history of slavery in the period of the transatlantic slave trade.
(www.readingslavery.au.dk). Sine is currently a visiting researcher in CSIS.