ourEconomy: Video

How legacies of empire are breaking Britain’s economy

openDemocracy’s new film BOOMERANG stars Kojo Koram and footballer John Barnes. Here’s how to watch

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Aaron White
26 October 2022, 4.53pm

The UK is in a moment of crisis and mainstream economics is failing to respond.

Many of the challenges we face today – from the cost of living to climate breakdown – are the legacies of a deeper and darker history that forms the very bedrock of our modern economic system.

As the effects of this system bite harder, many people are asking how we arrived at this point – how this country was formed, and what, exactly, was the purpose of Britain’s 400-year empire.

In BOOMERANG, a new documentary from openDemocracy, academic and author Kojo Koram visits Liverpool to explore how decisions of decades past are breaking Britain today – and how an honest reckoning with the legacies of empire can help us build an economy that works for all.

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Filmed beside the city’s docks, once the site of the largest slave-trading port this side of the Atlantic, the film traces how empire created some of the country’s most loved institutions – from the NHS, to its greatest talents like John Barnes – but also the unequal Britain seen today.

BOOMERANG features legendary footballer John Barnes, academic and writer Dalia Gebrial, and Labour MP Clive Lewis. You can watch the trailer above.

openDemocracy is hosting an exclusive screening and Q&A with Kojo Koram, Dalia Gebrial and other special guests at ArtHouse Cinema in Crouch End on 8 November at 6.30. Tickets can be purchased on eventbrite. [*SOLD OUT* We are currently planning more screenings. Follow openDemocracy for updates.]


Labour MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn said:

“Many of the challenges faced by our communities today, from the climate breakdown and cost of living crisis, are deeply rooted in the dark history of the British empire. BOOMERANG sheds an important light on the historic injustices that remain ever-present in modern society.”

Labour MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome said:

"BOOMERANG is a powerful reminder that to truly understand Britain today, we must reckon with our colonial past. As we stare down the barrel of another economic crisis, it’s a film that’s as timely as it is fascinating."

Director of the Progressive Economy Forum, James Meadway said:

“BOOMERANG is a serious contribution to understanding the foundations of the UK’s political and economic system.

During a cost of living and democratic legitimacy crisis – it’s crucial that we engage with the context of how we reached this point. With the arrival of a new monarch, this timely film shines a light on the imperial histories that made Britain’s economy.

A go-to introduction for those interested in the interconnections between Empire, the climate crisis and today’s cost-of-living crisis.”

Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis said:

“Britain is in a moment of political crisis. With three Tory Prime Ministers since July, the undemocratic nature of our political system is being laid bare.

In BOOMERANG, Kojo Koram arrives to show us how the political and economic challenges we face today are the product of a deeper and darker colonial past. In making connections from Empire through to the modern day, this short film shows why tackling our imperial legacies must be central to any project fighting for a just and greener future.”

Academic and writer, Dalia Gebrial said:

“Empire wasn’t just something that happened to the colonies, it’s something that happened to Britain. BOOMERANG opens our eyes to the realities of our colonial present, unearthing the forgotten imperial histories that made Britain the country it is today.

This fascinating 30-minute documentary film is a whistle stop tour in British political history and economy - a great education resource.

Don’t miss this film!”

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