The empire in one city?

Liverpool’s inconvenient imperial past

Liverpool occupies a prominent position in the contemporary popular imagination. In spite of decades of economic decline, urban decay and a name associated by some with poverty and crime, the city's reputation is by no means a negative one. The book is a collection of essays that focuses on the strength of Liverpool's merchant marine, representing both informal and formal empire over centuries. It discusses the interracial relationships in 1950s and 1960s Liverpool to demonstrate that many African and Afro-Caribbean sailors (and others) married or had relationships with white women. Given existing deficiencies in the historiographies of both Liverpool and the British Empire, the book aims to reassess both Liverpool's role within the British imperial system and the impact on the port city of its colonial connections. Liverpool's success has often been attributed to, and marred by, its being the leader in the slave trade after 1750. Napoleonic Wars were a period of great turbulence and difficulty for the Liverpool commercial community. Liverpool is perceived as a diasporic city, however, its ambiguous nineteenth-century identity reflected the tensions of its complex migrant connections. An analysis of Liverpool's business connections with South America reveals its relative commercial decline and the notion of 'gentlemanly capitalism'. The African ethnology collection of National Museums Liverpool's (NML) ethnology collections are displayed in the 'World Cultures' gallery of the World Museum Liverpool, which opened in 2005. Liverpool is perhaps not exceptional, though its networks are notable and striking.

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