Imagining home in the global city, and global University

One of the displays in the People's Republic gallery in the Museum of Liverpool explores the idea of home.

It features objects and interviews with residents who reflect on Liverpool's many identities, and their own relationships with a city which is always beloved. As the legendary Mersey poet Roger McGough puts it in Daniel Draper and Allan Melia's new film Don McCullin: Almost Liverpool 8, "I've always had this feeling that everyone, really, would rather be a Liverpudlian."

The genius of this exhibit is that it makes sure the definitions of 'home' it offers are various, and making us think about how we might expand our understanding of 'home', and all the concepts - like belonging, identity, familiarity, and security - we tend to attach to it. It's in this display that we find items relating to the Sailors' Home on Canning Place, which is such an important site the story told in our film 'Hey Joe', as the curators reflect with sensitivity about what that remarkable building on the waterfront meant as a temporary home for thousands of seafarers who were constantly on the move. Liverpool's docks have been a place of departure and arrival for centuries. The 2,600 victims of the Irish Famine we remember in the film '2600' arrived in the city by sea, and as the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail plaque on the Pilotage House tells us, some one million Irish people left Liverpool, and in many cases left Europe, from that point on the Mersey in the hope of a new life in America. Liverpool's status as one of the key ports in the transatlantic slave trade, explored with great clarity and vital detail in the International Museum of Slavery on Albert Dock, and written into famous addresses in the city like Exchange Flags and Bold Street, brings ideas of place, origin, belonging and identity to light in far more challenging, and still unresolved, ways. Beyond Liverpool, in modern British politics, we do not have to look far for evidence of how the word 'home' has been manipulated and deployed to aggressive and exclusionary effect.

The Global City exhibit in the Museum explores in Liverpool's special and longstanding ties to China. Liverpool is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe, which developed first in the docklands and then in the south city centre during the nineteenth century, and which has since 2000 been gloriously marked and symbolised by the Chinatown arch on Nelson Street, which was shipped piece by piece from Shanghai, Liverpool's twin city. The University of Liverpool's ties with China are strong. In 2006, the Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University opened its doors in Suzhou, China. XJTLU is the largest international collaborative university in China, and hundreds of students have now followed the 2+2 route, spending the first two years of their degree studying in Suzhou, and then joining the city of Liverpool's 50,000-plus student population for the final two years at the University of Liverpool. As we developed 'eJoy of Cooking', we spoke to current XJTLU students in Liverpool, and listened to their impressions and experiences of life in the city and the UK. Our focus in these interviews was on eating, shopping, and cooking, but our conversations about food were by extension conversations about home, travel, memory, and tradition.

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