Eleven years ago you hosted the 16th International Metropolis Conference. How did that come to be?
Our actual involvement with Metropolis International started in 2008, at the International Metropolis Conference in Bonn, Germany. When we attended, we just casually started talking about hosting it in the Azores one day. But with the support and commitment of Professor Lucinda Fonseca, who teaches at the University of Lisbon and who was next in line to host the International Metropolis Conference in Lisbon, and other partners, we applied.
One of our central focal points was precisely the difficulties that might come with the location, because of our geographic centrality – in between Europe, North America, South America and the Caribbean and the challenges an island state faces in terms of migration issues and policies.
Truth be told, I do think that one of the advantages was exactly this context of islands – to approach new areas of research and new areas of dialogue. And being in this unique location, having to travel by boat or plane to the next island, being surrounded by water and right in the middle of Azoreans and their culture really helped to shape arguments and deepen understanding for struggles and challenges outside of big city flows. Diasporas are also something that the previous conferences weren’t talking about very much, so we knew we could set an agenda: geographically unique with a strong network of diasporas.