Exiled Across the Mersey
Performing Religio-Cultural Identity at the Borders with the Liverpool Welsh
Keywords:Liverpool Welsh, Practice as Research, Liverpool, Wales
This paper juxtaposes the hybridised, religio-cultural distinctiveness of traditional articulations of Liverpool Welsh identity with discoveries made during the creation of the semi-autobiographical performance Cartref/At Home and the exhibition Cegin y Capel/The Chapel Kitchen. The Liverpool Welsh are a community of Welsh “ex-pats” living in Liverpool, though historically the relationship between the Northern Welsh and Liverpool has been ambivalent. In common with many “colonised” peoples, Welsh people have “never simply and completely opposed” English society (Ashcroft, Griffiths, & Tiffin 1998, 12-13), nor have they ever completely rejected the influence of Liverpool on their culture and industry, even after the flooding of Capel Celyn (1965) became such a resounding symbol of their colonised status. Today, the community is largely invisible to other Liverpudlians. Self-described exiles, the Liverpool Welsh view themselves as a Welsh language community located in England. Key aspects of the community’s identity are chronicled by its male leadership, expressed through the prism of Welsh Nonconformism. This paper re-examines the significance of more traditional articulations of the Liverpool Welsh community’s distinctiveness, calling for a more inclusive, multi-vocal approach to chronicling its histories, one that better represents the range of experiences contained within the community in the twenty-first century.
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