Distributed April 19, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Kate Bramson

Conference to examine relationship between Portugal and Africa

International scholars, authors, artists and diplomats will convene at Brown University April 25-28, 2002, for a literary symposium, ambassadors roundtable, social sciences conference, art exhibition and film series all devoted to the historical and contemporary relationship between Portugal and Africa.

PROVIDENCE — Brown University’s Portuguese/African Encounters International Congress 2002 will bring nearly 100 international participants to Brown April 25-28, 2002, to examine the historical and contemporary relationship between Portugal and Africa. It will be one of the largest North American conferences ever held for the African-Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) community.

“There’s a tendency in political analysis to focus on military and economic factors,” said Stephen Lubkemann. This event, however, will examine whether cultural, historical and linguistic ties affect the global politics of development, economic development, conflict resolution and peace negotiations. Lubkemann, the conference coordinator, is an adjunct assistant professor (research) at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies and assistant professor of anthropology at George Washington University

About one-third of the Congress participants are from Africa, one-third from the Americas and one-third from Europe. “One of our major objectives was to make it a genuinely international event,” Lubkemann said. Issues that conference participants will address include:

  • the complex role Portugal played for centuries as a bridge between Europe and Africa;
  • the decolonization of Portuguese territories in Africa; and
  • the rise of the newly independent states such as Mozambique, Angola, Guiné Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe and Cape Verde.

The conference is an outgrowth of a longstanding interest at Brown in the Portuguese, Brazilian and Portuguese-speaking African communities, said Onésimo Almeida, chairman of Brown’s Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. The conference will include:

  • A literary symposium: Thursday, April 25, 2:30 p.m., main lounge of the Inn at Brown University, 101 Thayer St. Prominent Portuguese-language authors from Africa and Portugal will discuss “Inhabiting Lusophonia? The Moral Economy of Language in the Post-Colonial Portuguese-Speaking World.” Free and open to the general public.
  • An ambassadors roundtable: Friday, April 26, 5:30 p.m., in Brown’s C.V. Starr Auditorium in MacMillan Hall. Participants will address the role of language, race and culture in global politics. At a time when conflict resolution and post-conflict development are pre-eminent global problems, the ambassadors will examine such work through the experiences of Lusophone Africa. Participants include Brown alumna Sharon Wilkinson (1968), who is the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique, and current or former diplomats from Brazil, Portugal and Cape Verde. Free and open to the public.
  • An interdisciplinary social science conference: April 26-28, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Inn at Brown University, 101 Thayer St. This conference requires pre-registration and costs $40. See Web site to register: www.WatsonInstitute.org/portafrica/
  • Art exhibit: April 13-May 27, with artist’s reception on Saturday, April 27, 7-8:30 p.m., at the David Winton Bell Gallery, List Art Center, 64 College St. This exhibition of paintings and drawings by the prominent Mozambican artist Malangatana Valente Ngwenya is the first retrospective of his life’s work in North America.
  • Luso-African film series: April 22-28. The series features six Portuguese and Luso-African films (with English subtitles) and discussions by two of the filmmakers. See Web for film locations and times.

For more information, visit the Web site at www.WatsonInstitute.org/portafrica or call Nancy Soukup at the Watson Institute at (401) 863-3438.