Award-winning documentary 2017

We Carry It Within Us

– fragments of a shared colonial past

'The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it ... History is literally present in all that we do.'

James Baldwin


'Helle Stenum's documentary 'We Carry It Within Us' is a very powerful yet elegant interrogation of the legacies of Danish colonialism, a film full of memorable insights into the postcolonial condition of Denmark communicated in very poignant ways.  This film should become a catalyst for altogether new kinds of dialogue and debate within and beyond Denmark.'

Nicholas De Genova, editor of 'The Borders of "Europe": Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering' (2017)


Excellent documentary! It is reflective, but still without scenes that are too long. It is informative and a good anchor for other European countries 'in denial of their slavery history' to make connection to their own countries. At the same time this is very relevant for the US as well. The documentary is  well conceptualized, good structure, engaging discovery journey with thoughtful commenting – what a great choice of experts, as it should be in a documentary like this.' 

Dr. Philomena Essed, Professor, Critical Race, Gender and Leadership Studies

USA, Antioch, University,  Graduate School of  Leadership and Change


The centennial in 2017 was an opportunity to focus on the common past between Denmark and the former Danish West Indies due to the centennial of the Danish sale of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John to the U.S.
The documentary 'We Carry It Within Us' investigates 

collective memory and different perspectives on the shared colonial past between Denmark and the current US Virgin Islands. Which events and individuals are remembered, and how is history narrated?

Watch on-demand (only private screenings):


Opening night

Four of the Virgin Islanders from the documentary, La Vaughn Belle, Chenoa Lee, Tiphanie Yanique og Tami Navarro, participated in a panel and debate with the audience facilitated by Politiken-journalist Gudrun Marie Schmidt on the opening night at Grand Theater, Copenhagen, May 31, 2017

Trailer: Chenoa Lee

The history of emancipation from enslavement as a result of rebellion amongst the enslaved people, and not as a result of humanism amongst the Danish colonial masters, might have been too hard to translate within the Danish historical narrative, says the Virgin Islander Chenoa Lee.

Trailer: Yanique

'My grandmother always told me, that the Danes were particularly awful. There was much more maiming, cutting off of hands and feet, than even our neighbours in the British Virgin Islands,' says Virgin Islander Tiphanie Yanique.

Director Helle Stenum

Helle Stenum, PhD, researcher, educator, has for many years worked on issues such as migration, culture, collective memory, ethnic relations, transnational connections, race and gender constructs at universities and as independant researcher and consultant. This documentary builds upon her profound knowledge on the colonial connection and her wide international network. 'We Carry It Within Us' is her first documentary.

© Helle Stenum