Collecting empire?
African objects, West African trade and a Liverpool museum
in The empire in one city?
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This chapter explores the African ethnology collection of National Museums Liverpool (NML) to shed light on the uneasy relationship between museums and the history of British imperialism. It also explores the cultural biographies of African artefacts in the collection of NML, including the trajectories through which they became part of the Museum's collection. Practices of collecting were influenced by the specific organisation of West African trade. The chapter looks at the building up of the Liverpool collections, tracing the processes of interaction, exchange and transportation, through which objects came to the collections. It also explores the changing expectations of European museum curators and collectors, and especially African attempts to manipulate and exploit these expectations. The chapter focuses on the political and cultural motives of African donors to the Liverpool collection, focusing on their expectations of what the objects they donated would show about African societies and cultures.

The empire in one city?

Liverpool’s inconvenient imperial past


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