IPLWS at RIC co-sponsors two Lusophone forums in September

The Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at RIC recently co-sponsored two events that focused on issues of local and international importance while helping to extend the college's global reach. Here are the highlights:

“Trans-Atlantic Relationships: Sharing Experiences on the Political and Economic Trajectories of the Azores and the State of Rhode Island”
Sept 15 and 16

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Mark Motte
This two-day event, organized by the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at RIC and the Azores Chapter of the European Youth Parliament in São Miguel, brought together scholars and community leaders from both sides of the Atlantic to examine the political and economic situations of each.

The forum focused on a comparison between the role of European regionalism within the context of the development of the European Union in general and the Azores in particular, and the role of American federalism as it impacts upon the State of Rhode Island.

Representing the Azores were political science scholars Luis Andrade and Carlos Amaral of the University of the Azores and Steven Barbosa, president of the Azores Chapter of the European Youth Parliament. Content and perspectives on American federalism were presented by RIC political scientists Francis Leazes, Jr. and Michelle Brophy-Baermann.

The realities of Rhode Island economic development were presented by R.I. State Sen. Daniel DaPonte, chairman of Senate Committee on Finance; R.I. State Rep. Helio Melo, deputy chairman of House Committee on Finance; and Gary Sasse, RIC visiting professor and former executive director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council. Mark T. Motte, RIC professor of geography, was the principal advisor to the Institute on this project.

The Azorean guests were given a first hand look at the state’s economic development endeavors during a walking tour of the site of the rebirth of downtown Providence by Motte, co-author along with Leazes, of the book “Providence, the Renaissance City.” They also visited the Quonset Development Corporation in North Kingstown to compare the site of that port with that of the many ports in the Azores.

During a luncheon meeting with President Carriuolo and the academic administrative staff, ideas were discussed in order to continue the dialogue with a focus on student involvement in European Studies both at the University of the Azores and at Rhode Island College.

“Community Radio and Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau”
Sept. 23-25

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Nancy Carriuolo and Maria de Jesus Barroso Soares
Maria de Jesus Barroso Soares, former first lady of the Republic of Portugal and president of the Fundação Pro Dignitate de Direitos Humanos of Lisbon, participated in an inaugural banquet and conference at Rhode Island College.

Her presence marked the beginning of a three-year project between the Fundação Pro Dignitate and the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies at RIC. The project involves the use of community radios as an instrument of peace in the Portuguese-speaking former colony of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa.

An Inaugural Banquet was held on Sept. 23 in the Student Union Ballroom for the signing of a protocol between Barroso Soares and RIC President Nancy Carriuolo. The protocol includes activities for gathering and disseminating information, conferences and meetings, and training of journalists in ethical reporting practices to work against violence provoked by the media.

Also at the banquet were Consul Graça Fonseca of New Bedford and Vice-consul J. Leonel Teixeira of Providence and Luz Teixeira.

Maria Barroso Soares invited the Institute to participate in this important initiative because of the Lusophone orientation of the Institute’s mission. She said that media is an important tool in stemming the tide of violence during times of conflict in Guinea-Bissau.

The conference “Community Radio and Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau” was held on Sept. 24 and 25. Scholars and journalists from the United Stated and Africa convened to share information on such topics as “Historical Context and Legacies of Guinea-Bissau,” “Institutional Context of the Media in Guinea-Bissau,” “The Role of Women and Peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau,” “Ethical Reporting in Times of Conflict” and “The Art of Language in the Field Experience of Radio Sol Mansi.”

Peter K. Mendy, RIC associate professor of history, is the principle academic advisor to the Institute for the three-year project.

The conference coincided with International Peace Week at the United Nations and with the 37th anniversary of Independence in Guinea-Bissau on September 24. The community of immigrants from Guinea-Bissau in Rhode Island and across the United States joined to participate under the organizations of Associação da Comunidade da Guiné-Bissau dos Estados Unidos da America and the Casa da Guiné-Bissau.

The flag of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau was raised for the first time at Pawtucket City Hall on Independence Day, Sept 24, following the traditions of the Portuguese community on Dia de Portugal and the Cape Verdean Community on their Independence Day on July 5.