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A Symposium in Conjunction with "La Vaughn Belle: A History of Unruly Returns"



*Ticket price includes admission to special exhibitions Nordic Utopia? African Americans in the 20th Century and La Vaughn Belle: A History of Unruly Returns.

**Students: please email from your university email address to receive a special discount code to be used at checkout!

Consider the work of La Vaughn Belle and Danish colonialism at our afternoon symposium featuring lectures from Dr. Ayana Flewellen (Stanford University) and Dr. Temi Odumosu (University of Washington). This event takes place on Transfer Day, a day observed in the US Virgin Islands marking the islands' transfer from Demark to the U.S. in 1917. Join us for an opportunity to examine this topic through a critical lens.


  • 2:00 pm: Dr. Ayana Flewellen - "Telling Fragmented Histories, Creating Prismatic Futures Through Art" 

    Drawing inspiration from Derek Walcott's Nobel lecture, which underscores the significance of art in restoring shattered histories, this presentation will explore themes of Caribbean identity, history, and colonial legacy in La Vaughn Belle’s Chaney Series, and her digital series, "How to Survive Colonial Nostalgia. This presentation will underscore Belle's transformative practice as a dialogue between past and present, that emerges as a powerful vehicle for reclaiming and reshaping fragmented narratives of the Caribbean archipelago.
  • 3:00 pm: Fika Coffee Break
  • 3:30: Dr. Temi Odumosu - "Finding Alberta: Reckoning with Unfinished Colonial Herstories"

    During the summer of 1905, two Afro-Caribbean children arrived in Copenhagen to be displayed inside a colonial exhibition at Tivoli Gardens. Alberta Viola Roberts (aged 5) and Victor Cornelius (aged 7) travelled together by ship from St. Croix, which was then under Danish rule and now a protectorate of the United States. Featured in a “West Indies” installation – alongside people and objects from other places such as Greenland and the Faroe Islands – the exhibition framed them as young colonial subjects, and examples from a community unfamiliar to most Danish people at the time. After the exhibition ended the children remained in Denmark as orphans, even though the original plan was to send them back home. This began a slow and painful unravelling of identity, language, and culture, which we have insights on now because Victor lived till old age, wrote a memoir, and gave many interviews. 

    Alberta, however, died young and unexpectedly of tuberculosis aged 15, without her family, and was buried on March 31st, 1917 – the same day Denmark transferred St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John to the United States. This talk charts my entwinement with the faint memory of Alberta Roberts, and explores the tentative efforts made to carefully restore dignity and presence to her archival remains; materially and digitally. I think through what it means to write about a life from imbalanced historical sources, and do this work of recovery, not simply as a memory-worker but also as an “extra-familial” presence. I grapple with the impossibilities of retelling colonial crimes, and ask: How do we turn up in sites of memory? What do we choose to show and tell? How do we lend our bodies, our hands, our words, our energy, and our attention to the work of repair?


  • Ayana Flewellen

    Ayana Omilade Flewellen

    Ayana Omilade Flewellen (they/she) is a Black Feminist, an archaeologist, a artist scholar and a storyteller. As a scholar of anthropology and African and African Diaspora Studies, Flewellen's intellectual genealogy is shaped by critical theory rooted in Black feminist epistemology and pedagogy. 

  • OdumosuTemi400

    Temi Odumosu

    Dr. Temi Odumosu is an art historian and assistant professor at the University of Washington Information School. She is author of the book Africans in English Caricature 1769-1819: Black Jokes White Humour (2017).