The University of Exeter host landmark Lusitanist International Conference

Dr Ana Martins and Dr Susana Afonso lecture in Portuguese in the Modern Languages Department at the University of Exeter.

The Association of British and Irish Lusitanists (ABIL) met for the VI International Conference at the University of Exeter, on the 7-8 September. The event attracted attendees from across the UK, Ireland and overseas, including Brazil, North America and Mozambique to discuss cultural developments across the Portuguese-speaking world.

The conference also coincided with a series of celebrations, including the 10th anniversary of the Association of British and Irish Lusitanists (ABIL), and the 50th anniversary of the publication We Killed Mangy-Dog, written by acclaimed author and keynote-speaker Luís Bernardo Honwana.

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Dr Susana Afonso and Dr Ana Martins with guest of honor Luís Bernardo Honwana and the president of the Association, King John II Professor of Portuguese Phillip Rothwell

The international event also marked the first official UK visit for the acclaimed Mozambican writer, who penned the influential collection of short stories in 1964, We Killed Mangy-Dog and Other Stories. Mr Honwana’s achievements extend beyond his literary accomplishments, having worked as Director of the Mozambican President’s Office in the newly independent Mozambique in 1975. Mr Honwana later went on to serve on the Executive Board of UNESCO (1987 to 1991), Chairman of Unesco’s Intergovernmental Committee for the World Decade for Culture and Development, and Director of UNESCO’S office in South Africa.

Keynote speakers also included Professor David Treece, Camoens Professor of Portuguese from Kings College London, and Professor Anna Klobucka, Professor of Portuguese and Women’s and Gender Studies at UMass Dartmouth.

Dr Ana Martins, lecturer in Portuguese at the University of Exeter, and local organiser said: “The papers presented at the conference were of a very high standard. The plenary speakers in particular offered insights into topics as varied and timely as the politics and aesthetics of black music in Brazil, the linguistic future of Mozambique, and the politics of gender in Portuguese modernism, setting the tone for the ensuing general panel discussions. There were also three exciting thematic panels dedicated to ‘Translating Cultures,’ ‘Lusophone literatures and environmental criticism,’ and ‘In Memory of Professor Clive Willis,’ as well as a postgraduate session and a publisher’s talk. We would like to thank all our panellists for contributing to creating such a vibrant and scholarly debate throughout the conference.”

Null_A_MartinsFocussing on the theme “De/formations: Illegitimate Bodies, Texts and Tongues”, the international event offered postgraduate students and early career researchers the opportunity to share their latest research, and explore aspects of Lusophone culture from the medieval period to the present day.

Fellow organiser Dr Susana Afonso said: “The conference was particularly significant for Portuguese in the Department of Modern Languages, as Portuguese was one of the languages which was launched quite recently, in 2014. It was therefore an honour to have hosted such a fantastic event at Exeter.”

This was the first time the conference was be held at the University of Exeter, in partnership with ABIL, Instituto Camões in Portugal, The University of Exeter, and the Anglo-Portuguese Society.

For more information about the VI International Conference, please visit the VI International Conference of the Association of British and Irish Lusitanists webpage. To learn about the conference, please use the accompanying hashtag #abil2015 on Twitter, or visit the Facebook page.