About IHA

IHA is the most important R&D unit in the field of Art History in Portugal, as evidenced by the number of researchers, collaborators and PhD students it gathers, and by the quality and growth of all its productivity and internationalization parameters since 2007. IHA’s distinctive marks are:
1) To consider Art History as a core field in Humanities that studies art objects, images, and their symbolic values, in a broad chronological spectrum – ranging from Greco-Latin and medieval inheritances to the successive classicisms, and from there up to the ruptures of modernity and contemporary debates. This approach is grounded in a historical perspective that takes philosophical, sociological and semiotic debates into consideration, as well as the specificity of Heritage and Museology studies (taken here as decisive links to, and disseminators of, new multidisciplinary work). It is IHA’s researchers common goal to actively participate in the construction of a new Art History, committed to the overcoming of still prevailing Eurocentric narratives and auratic perspectives. Portuguese history of art is particularly suited to this undertaken, since the contrast offered by its peripheral geographical and historical conditions – able to produce many examples of an active resistance to central artistic models –, and its early commercial and colonial relations with Africa, Brazil, India, China and Japan, put Portugal in a crossroad of influences and in a position to elaborate artistic and architectural alternatives whose importance is yet to be fully recognized.
2) To maintain a flexible and democratic research structure that enhances the autonomy of its six Research Groups (coordinated by a PI closely supported by the two other core CVs). These groups trigger and run projects in their specific areas of research (Antiquity, Medieval and Early Modern Art, Lisbon Studies, Contemporary Art, Museum Studies and Theory, historiography and criticism). IHA’s Scientific Committee regular meetings (10 core CVs representing all Research Groups) discuss these projects in order to establish possible articulations within IHA’s Thematic Lines – “The Exhibition: theory and practices” and “Cultural transfers in a global perspective”.
3) IHA’s democratic footprint is boosted by its management structure and by the diverse backgrounds and affiliations of its researchers. The majority of Research Groups and Thematic Lines PIs, as well as the ten core CVs gathered as Permanent Scientific Committee belong to FCSH/NOVA. Nevertheless there are several members affiliated with other universities and faculties (Univ Aberta, Univ Porto – Fine Art Faculty, Univ Nova Lisboa – Faculty of Sciences and Technology, ESAD), museums, heritage administration, and the Lisbon City Council. Plus, IHA’s directive Board gathers three members elected by the broad Scientific Committee (composed by all PhD researchers) for a three years mandate (which is limited to two terms). IHA’s Board meets at least once a week with the permanent support of the science manager running the Planning & Management office.
4) To consistently articulate basic and applied research. This orientation involves close cooperation with Portuguese museums, heritage sites, urban regenerating intervenors, and those surveying the impact of cultural consumption and the growth of tourism in contemporary societies. These major concerns are expressed through the definition of Museology and Cultural Heritage as IHA’s main scientific area. Such articulation has been supported by IHA’s research projects through several partnerships signed with institutions belonging to the central administration (such as the DGPC – General Board for Cultural Heritage, and the main national museums), the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Lisbon City Council, as well as other public or private institutions for whom art historical research is key as far as the study of materials, archives, collections, documentation, or education and dissemination strategies (via website contents, exhibitions, catalogs, open seminars, etc) are concerned . Particularly important in this regard have been the links maintained with Univ. Porto, as well as with the Department of Conservation and Restauration of FCT-UNL and the R&D units associated to it (REQUIMTE, VICARTE) and Instituto Superior Técnico (ICEMS and CTN).
Though managed through running FCT projects, these partnerships also encompass smaller research initiatives involving PhD students, and young MA and BA students (through internships). Furthermore, IHA participates in several FCSH PhD programs (Art History, Urban studies, Art Studies), while also collaborating in PhD programs from FCT/NOVA and Univ. Porto.
5) IHA’s international connections run through its integration as a RIHA full member (IHA is furthermore editor of the RIHA Journal in Portugal), through other specific networks – INCCA NeCCAR -, and through the solid relations with Brazilian and Spanish universities. Also, IHA is the host institution for an increasing number of foreign researchers developing their PhD and postdoctoral projects in Portugal.
6) Finally, IHA publishes Revista de História da Arte/Art History Journal. The journal went through major transformations since it fist came out in 2005: it went from an endogenous publication logic to an exogenous publication profile where IHA researchers appear as editors responsible for electing a theme, inviting some guest authors, launching a CFP and coordinating the due process of article double blind peer review). Other IHA editorial activity includes the publication of PhD and MA theses, and the online edition of conference proceedings (Revista de História da Arte – W series).