The Hispanic Liverpool Project is an initiative of Dr. Kirsty Hooper, formerly of the University of Liverpool and now an associate professor and reader in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick in England.
While Dr.Hooper herself specializes in the culture and literature of Galicia, the Hispanic Liverpool Project seeks to record the experiences of all communities originating in the Iberian Peninsula and as we can see, Basques were prominent among such networks.
Quoting the website, “Through the Hispanic Liverpool Database (coming soon!) and Hispanic Liverpool Forum, the project gathers, records and interprets the stories of the people who inhabited those networks, the trading connections they forged and exploited, the places they lived, worked and are remembered, and the traces we can still find of them today, in Liverpool and elsewhere.”
The importance of Liverpool as the major British port and the fact that it served as a key point of embarkation for transatlantic crossings, especially the Liverpool-New York passage, were key in attracting Basques to the city. While many Basques were just passing through, others stayed. The grandest of these operated shipping and shipbuilding companies, while others started up smaller businesses such as tailors or shoemakers, and interestingly, in a parallel to the New World Basque experience, a network of Basque boarding houses was established in Liverpool.
In the “Stories” section of the website, check out the biography of Eulalia de Abaitua (1853-1943), a pioneering Basque photographer who famously recorded daily life in nineteenth-century Bizkaia. Although born in Bilbao, she was raised in Liverpool, married there, and first studied photography in the city. Abaitua’s work is discussed in Miren Jaio’s A Collection of Prints, published by the Etxepare Basque Institute and available free to download here.
For more on the Basque presence in Liverpool in general, see “Los vascos de Liverpool” by Koldo San Sebastián in the online journal Euskonews. And Helen Forrester’s historical novel, The Liverpool Basque, examines the experience of Basque newcomers to the city.
Today, Basque language, society, and culture classes are offered through the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool, and the Center’s own Xabier Irujo currently occupies the Manuel Irujo Chair Fellowship at that same university.
Books in the Center’s Diaspora and Migration Studies series address many of the same themes and issues that the Hispanic Liverpool Project is concerned with.