The empire in one city?

Liverpool's inconvenient imperial past
Haggerty, Sheryllynne
Webster, Anthony
White, Nicholas J.
Date published: 
November 2008

From the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century, at least, Liverpool was frequently referred to as the 'second city of the empire'. Yet, the role of Liverpool within the British imperial system and the impact on the city of its colonial connections remain underplayed in recent writing on both Liverpool and the empire. However, 'inconvenient' this may prove, this specially commissioned collection of essays demonstrates that the imperial dimension deserves more prevalence in both academic and popular representations of Liverpool's past. Indeed, if Liverpool does represent the 'World in One City' - the slogan for Liverpool's status as European Capital of Culture in 2008 - it could be argued that this is largely down to Merseyside's long-term interactions with the colonial world, and the legacies of that imperial history.

The essays in this volume cover a wide range of economic, social, cultural and political themes within Liverpool's imperial history. They encompass three centuries and topics as diverse (yet interrelated) as: Liverpool's role within the eighteenth-century British Atlantic empire; Liverpool and the Asian Trade, 1800-50; immigration into and emigration from Liverpool in the nineteenth century; Liverpool and South America, 1850-1930; the origins and presentation of African collections at Liverpool museums; 'popular' imperialism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Liverpool; inter-racial relationships in twentieth-century Liverpool; Merseyside shipping and the end of empire after 1945; and the survival of Liverpool's trading links with West Africa to the present day. In the context of Capital of Culture year and growing interest in the relationship between British provincial cities and the British empire, this book will find a wide audience amongst academics, students and history enthusiasts generally.