Afterword: Postcolonial times
The visible and the invisible
in Imperial cities
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In the back-streets of post-colonial Britain, in Wolverhampton and Smethwick, the language of the colonial frontier could be heard again. The frontiers have functioned not only as sociological facts but also as symbolic systems. For, despite the apparent chaos of the sights which confront us, the historical times inscribed in the city are organised by powerful logistics. Indubitably, the post-colonial city is hybrid: but it is neither random nor indecipherable. The public vistas constructed in the heart of the capital, and in the heart of Britain's other cities, provide the visible legacy of Britain's imperial past. But in a deeper sense the imperial city also carries other legacies which cannot so readily be scrutinised by the naked eye. In design and organisation London, Birmingham, Glasgow all still signify the imperial past, a past memorialised in the built environment.

Imperial cities

Landscape, display and identity


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