The persistence of memory

BookThe persistence of memory

The persistence of memory

Remembering slavery in Liverpool, 'slaving capital of the world'

Liverpool Studies in International Slavery, 18


September 4th, 2020


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'An extremely thoughtful and illuminating book, based on meticulous research. As a contribution to our understanding of the legacy of slavery in Liverpool, this book will be regarded as a landmark study, offering a very clever and insightful meditation on history and memory that is bound to excite interest on both sides of the Atlantic.'
Professor John Oldfield, Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull

An Open Access edition of this book will be made available on publication on our website and on the OAPEN Library, funded by the LUP Open Access Author Fund.

The Persistence of Memory is a history of the public memory of transatlantic slavery in the largest slave-trading port city in Europe, from the end of the 18th century into the 21st century; from history to memory. Mapping this public memory over more than two centuries reveals the ways in which dissonant pasts, rather than being ‘forgotten histories’, persist over time as a contested public debate. This public memory, intimately intertwined with constructions of ‘place’ and ‘identity’, has been shaped by legacies of transatlantic slavery itself, as well as other events, contexts and phenomena along its trajectory, revealing the ways in which current narratives and debate around difficult histories have histories of their own. By the 21st century, Liverpool, once the ‘slaving capital of the world’, had more permanent and long-lasting memory work relating to transatlantic slavery than any other British city. The long history of how Liverpool, home to Britain’s oldest continuous black presence, has publicly ‘remembered’ its own slaving past, how this has changed over time and why, is of central significance and relevance to current and ongoing efforts to face contested histories, particularly those surrounding race, slavery and empire.

'Moody’s book is timely and instructive. Though each is important in its own right, it offers more than an academic meditation on theories of memory... It provides, too, an insightful case study of how evolving and contested memories of Britain’s colonial and slave past are reshaping the 21st century cultural and political landscape of the nation as a whole.'David Richardson, Memory Studies

'The Persistence of Memory is impressive in scope because Jessica Moody brings together many different ways of memorializing the slave trade and slavery... This is essential reading for understanding the issues surrounding consulting and working with Black communities — those of African Caribbean descent, others with long histories in Britain, and those more recently migrated from African countries.'

Sheryllynne Haggerty, Journal of British Studies

Author Information

Jessica Moody is a Lecturer in Public History at University of Bristol

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Introduction: Remembering Slavery in the ‘slaving capital of the world’17
1. From History to Memory: The Discursive Legacies of the Past 45
2. Black Liverpool: Living with the Legacy of the Past81
3. Coinciding Anniversaries: Birthdays and the Abolition Act in 1907, 1957, and 2007117
4. The Memorial Cult of William Roscoe: Remembering Abolition145
5. The Rise of the Museums171
6. Performing Memory: Local Slavery Memory in a Globalizing World197
7. Sites of Memory: Bodies and the Cityscape233
Conclusion: Untelling Difficult Pasts273