An ethnographic film on St. Croix
by Freja Ek Sindberg


All of We speaks for itself. To me, making All of We, has been a voyage of immense challenge and great learning on both an anthropological, ethical and personal level. I find it important to offer a little context and thus share this short story of how and why All of We was made.


The 31st of March 2017 a rather ambivalent celebration took place in both the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and Denmark. This day marked the 100 year anniversary for Denmark selling the former Danish West Indies; St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, to the USA for 25.000.000 dollars in 1917. This was done on the basis of a referendum in Denmark, while the inhabitants of the three islands were never included in the decision.
I was studying Visual Anthropology at Aarhus University at the time, and was struggling to decide where to do prolonged fieldwork for my master thesis. During the spring of 2017 Danish media were suddenly writing about Danish colonial history in the Caribbean. I was highly indignant by the fact that at no time during 16 years of lower and higher education had I been introduced to this significant part of my country’s history. I suddenly remembered glimpses of a horribly racist TV-show taking place by a yellow fort on St. Croix and even meeting a senator from St. Croix in Denmark, as a child. I was drawn to use time among people on St. Croix, feeling like a lost connection had peaked out of this vast neglect in Danish national memory.

All Of We is made from material done during a fieldwork for a Masters in Visual anthropology at Aarhus University, Denmark.

The fieldwork was done on St. Croix during 4,5 months through August-November 2017 and January-February 2018 by the Danish student Freja Sindberg.

The 6th of September 2017 hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean followed by Hurricane Maria the 19th of September. In the USVI 90% of the buildings were damaged by the storms and about 13,000 constructions were roofless. For months to come, residents of St. Croix were struggling with a devastated infrastructure, lack of power, and scarce subsistence resources.


Even though postcolonial indignation sparked my motivation to do fieldwork on St. Croix, I did not want to force colonial history or Denmark as main focal points. Rather it was important to me to arrive open and curious to the reality and concerns of inhabitants at the present moment. Before arriving on St. Croix I had been blessed to meet Solange at a West Indian folk party in Denmark. On her generous invitation I was able to stay with her and her mother in the middle of the island for the first period of my stay. Born and raised on St. Croix, Solange was able to introduce me to many people in the local community on the West side of the island, while I reached out to others myself. Many tracks quickly seemed to point west, so I soon moved to Frederiksted where I could stay with Benny, a childhood friend of Solange. In this early stage of the fieldwork, I was perplexed to hear many people express concerns about the crucian1 culture dying out. I asked myself; how can a culture die? And why is this so important? Drawn to the theme of cultural heritage, I started to meet with several Culture Bearers2 of the Island, and to cooperate with CHANT, documenting a cultural restoration and education program called the Free Gut Project3.


1 Crucian is a local expression for culture tied specifically to St. Croix.

2 Culture Bearers is a local term for people who are acknowledged for their effort to keep local culture alive, such as the art of Moko Jumbies or Calypso music - a tradition of political and often satirical music historically used to transfer news from plantage to plantage without the slave owners noticing.

3 Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT) launched the Free Gut project as part of a larger program called Invisible Heritage: Identity, Memory & Our Town. See more at //


Everything changed when the first warning of a category 5 hurricane reached St. Croix, barely three weeks after my arrival. I watched uneasily while Benny closed down the beach house with shutters and other severe preparations. We then went to the concrete house of his father to wait out the storm. Hurricane Irma left St. Croix mostly with the scare while St. Thomas and St. John were severely hit. The public atmosphere was now marked by relief and solidarity with the islands dealing with vast destructions, until rumors of another hurricane reached the shores. On September 19th hurricane Maria swirled directly into St. Croix. Back in Benny’s family house, I realized that this was an extraordinary storm, even for the islanders around me, that seemed so cool and prepared for these mighty forces of nature. I have never heard wind screaming like this, high pitched and resembling human voices carving into the marv of bones, the sense of air pressure threatening to blow off the roof. At this moment I knew this hurricane would inevitably shape life on the island for a long time and I decided to use the camera as a way to explore what was happening around me. The film ‘All of We’ thus came to life as an ethnographic exploration of this extraordinary moment in US Virgin Island history, using filmmaking as a way to intuitively analyze and engage with this new and unforeseen reality of a natural catastrophe.



In All of We, we follow the anthropologist and filmmaker’s way into the local community on St. Croix, when two catastrophic hurricanes hit the Caribbean Island. Caught in the middle of the storm, we come close to a local family dealing with the horrors of the night and the chaos the daylight exposes. With all infrastructure wrecked, house roofs gone and the perspective of months to come without electricity and water, we meet islanders showing an extraordinary calmness and gratitude to life. Yet, the aftermath also spurs up ambivalent reflections on the state of the local community. Four islanders; a calypso king, a young radio host, a painter and a spiritual elder, use the camera as a direct channel to speak to st. Croix. These expressions are weaved into atmospheric scenes of public life in the hurricane aftermath forming a mosaic that reflects local and universal questions of migration, postcolonial shame, spirituality and the longing to belong.


Here you meet different islanders speaking to St. Croix in the aftermath of the hurricanes Irma and Maria. They have different backgrounds and roles in the community but all share a sensation of St. Croix being their home.
I owe the vastest gratitude and respect for their bravery and will to participate. I hope they can aspire insight and debate on the many ways it can feel to belong on St. Croix and beyond.











These recordings are first and foremost brave and honest expressions from some of the many generous people I met on St. Croix. They are made on the basis of a method I developed throughout the fieldwork, drawing on anthropological theories of filmmaking to explore the complex sensations of belonging on St. Croix. I interviewed each participant about their role in the local community and in the end I asked them to imagine that the camera was a direct media through which they could connect directly to St. Croix. I did this in order to create a more immediate medium for expressions of belonging. I also created a medium through which the viewer is directly addressed and in this way invited to feel engaged with the person speaking.


A few days before I left St. Croix, I sat on rainbow beach, looking at yet another bursting sunset of orange and pink. I felt my stay coming to an end and the experiences I had ranging from encounters of stories and laughter to the touch of a newly sprung waterfall and the sounds of wild cock screaming - all blurred together in a wordless sensation, and disappeared into a simple feeling of being. It was as if the ocean and the island reflected one another through me, painting a mark inside me. I felt a thrill.
For good and bad, St. Croix is now part of me, and part of me belongs here.

There have been a vast amount of people who helped, coorporated and supported me in different ways throughout this project. Some became dear friends while others were brief meetings leaving strong impressions. A special thanks to those who were willing to share themselves, making this film possible.

Doing fieldwork on St. Croix during this period is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. Local energies of nature, people and spirits expanded my mind in so many directions. It has been an experience that left me with both trauma and gratitude. To be at the mercy of raw powers of nature, during hurricane Maria, was such an extraordinary and sensuous experience, that I am extremely thankful to have had it. It brought with it a deep learning of humbleness and a sense of community with everyone going through that same storm. The gratitude to life and the stern calmness of islanders standing in front of challenges that most Danes could never even imagine, is to this day an enormous inspiration.

Following is a list of people I would like to give special thanks to;

Benny Davis Labadie and his family - Solange Sheppy - Norma DeJournette - Wayah - Ariella Hayes - Sara Lee Hayes - Hildegunn Grønningsæter - Camille ‘King Derby’ Macedon - Frandelle Gerard - John ‘Obafemi’ Jones - Wayne E. ‘Bully’ Petersen - Iya Tahirah Abubakr - Sandra Michaels and her daughter - Lonie - Love, Bigga, Feather, Nancy and many other kind crew and guests of U.C.A. (the United Caribbean Association kitchen) - Bale-shabaka Kaza Amlak - Kimba - Arif - Jimi Mckay - Dylan Rhyder - Junie Bomba - Senator Positive - Anker Li - Ulla Lunn - Master Fatman - Christian Vium - Jakob Ek - Nynne Ek Sindberg - Laurits Ek Sindberg - Mette Roikjer

Thanks for your learnings and for leaving a
space and moment for me to belong.

Thank you St. Croix.


If you have any inquiries, comments or questions,
please don’t hesitate to take contact.

Visual Anthropologist and Filmmaker