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Post-colonial relations for Portugal

On 18 December 2020 the Lisbon Academy of Sciences held a meeting (in person and via Zoom) on globalization and the African Portuguese speaking world – Globalização em Português: revoluções e continuidades (Globalization in Portuguese: revolutions and continuities). The meeting, which was jointly organized by the Academy and the Foundation Maria Amélia de Mello, was part of a commemorative program for the 150 year anniversary since the birth of Alfredo da Silva, a prominent Portuguese entrepreneur of the 20th century with strong economic interests in Africa.

The program consisted both of historical insight into Alfredo da Silva’s economic agenda in Africa and of contemporary topics concerning the relationship between Portugal, Europe and Africa. Maria Paula Diogo, leader of WP3 – Science Diplomats, was invited to comment on the role of the overseas historical archive (which includes not only documents, but also collections of plants, rocks, artefacts and photos) in present day relationships between Portugal and its former colonies.

Maria Paula presented InsSciDE’s agenda to illustrate a fresh way to use colonial heritage – archives, collections, local built heritage – to build a balanced contemporary relationship between former colonisers and the now independent nations: by bringing together both Portuguese and African ‘traditional’ researchers and scholars, such as historians, anthropologists and diplomats. Building on the concepts of formal and informal techno-scientific diplomacy, Maria Paula presented WP3’s case studies on Portuguese experts-diplomats: the naturalist Correia da Serra, the engineer Joaquim Machado and the zoologist Barbosa du Bocage, whose career was closely examined by Team Gamito-Marques in InsSciDE’s 2020 summer school WSDS. Maria Paula also called attention to InsSciDE’s WP4 on heritage, archaeology and diplomacy as a provider of further examples of science diplomacy between Western countries and former colonies, namely French archaeologists’ working on heritage preservation in Syria.

During the discussion, the audience were intrigued by the concept of techno-scientific diplomacy, which was still new to most of them. The apparent interest resulted in Maria Paula and the head of the overseas historical archive deciding to organize a future workshop to deepen the discussion. Keep a lookout!


Published 5 January 2021

Globalização em Português: revoluções e continuidades (Globalization in Portuguese: revolutions and continuities)
18 December 2020
Commentary by Maria Paula Diogo | WP3 - Science Diplomats

Understand Portuguese? Listen to the recording of the session here! Prof Diogo @ 5:49:00