Sweden became a slaveholding nation when it acquired its only Caribbean colony, Saint-Barthélemy—a.k.a. St. Barths or St. Barts—from France in 1784. When the island was retroceded in 1878, the records created during ninety-four years of Swedish Caribbean rule were left behind and are now held in France. Examining the history of this archive that stands as a metaphor for Swedish colonial amnesia, this essay discusses the reluctance in Sweden to recognize a past that goes against a self-image untainted by slavery and colonialism. The essay also discusses a project that aims to open the archive to a larger audience through digitization.
The Caribbean Scorpion: The Saint-Barthélemy Archive and Swedish Colonial Amnesia
Fredrik Thomasson is an associate professor of history at Uppsala University, where he works on the Swedish possession (1784–1878) of the Lesser Antilles island Saint-Barthélemy (also known as St. Barths). He has published extensively on various aspects of Swedish Caribbean colonialism and is preparing a monograph on Swedish slave law and colonial justice. He is the initiator of the digitization of the Swedish Saint-Barthélemy archive currently held in the French National Colonial Archives.
Fredrik Thomasson; The Caribbean Scorpion: The Saint-Barthélemy Archive and Swedish Colonial Amnesia. Small Axe 1 July 2020; 24 (2 (62)): 53–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8604478
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