Beyond sterile dualities in meetings to the challenge of participant impotence (Part #1)
Published in Transnational Associations, 1995, 1, pp. 43-53 [PDF version]
A version of this was also published in Knowledge Organization, 22, 1995, 2, pp. 82-88
The 1st World Congress on Transdisciplinarity was held near Lisbon from 2-6 November 1994. The event was organized with the support of the Portuguese National Commission of UNESCO, the Transdisciplinarity Study Group for UNESCO, and the International University of Lisbon, under the auspices of the Centre International de Recherches et d'Etudes Transdisciplinaires (CIRET, Paris), UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the Mayor of Setubal. It was opened by the President of Portugal.
The 76 invited participants were primarily French-speaking, with 33 from France. Other countries represented included: Argentine, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, USA. A preparatory meeting had been organized by CIRET at UNESCO in Paris in June.
The event was held in the Convento da Arrabida, a Franciscan monastery dating from 1542 but abandoned since 1854 (when religious orders were abolished in Portugal). The monastery has been taken over and partially restored since 1990 by the Fundaçao Oriente, with some buildings converted into a small residential conference centre (although many participants resided in nearby Settubal as guests of the city). The centre is part of the European Network of Cultural Businesses and Institutions located at Historical Sites. It is set in the Arrabida National Park on slopes overlooking the sea. Christopher Columbus is said to have meditated in a hermitage there prior to his explorations.
Given the nature and ambitions of the event, it would be inconsistent to describe it in any conventional way. The following sections are therefore designed to evoke an understanding of what it might, or might not, have been according to one's perspective.oke an understanding of what it might, or might not, have been according to one's perspective.