Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas – Universidade Nova de Lisboa
IHA is a R&D Unit hosted by FCSH-UNL and a full member of the RIHA network (assuring positions within RIHA Journal board of editors). It edits the referee journal Revista de História da Arte, and integrates 51 PhD researchers approaching art history at its broadest chronological spectrum (Antiquity, Middle Age, Modern and Contemporary) and from multidisciplinary perspectives that thoroughly consider Museum, Heritage and Urban studies, and Art theory.
IHA’s research domain has been strongly committed to Portuguese art history, but is by no means confined to it. Not only interrogations prompted by Portuguese art history intertwined with general art historical questions, but also its historical and present relations with other geographies (European, Asian, African and American) is conspicuous. As such, IHA’s research reinforces the spectrum of global art history.
IHA takes art history as a field of knowledge of particular importance to Humanities that, far from being exclusively focused on exceptional objects, encompasses the study of material culture. The Institute has been favoring both a permanent dialogue with other fields of research (sociology, anthropology, aesthetics, philosophy, literature, urban studies, as well as all other domains of cultural production), and the engagement with the general debates occurring within the discipline, as those regarding Eurocentric narratives, and the effect of gender and postcolonial perspectives upon them, the revision of high art/low art and center/periphery divides, the importance of conservation, mediation and curatorial practices, the current state of art criticism, the re-reading of modernism, the tensions between art and politics in contemporary art practices, or the challenges faced by urban regeneration and heritage. Furthermore, IHA has been working to assert the relevance of art history in contemporary culture by strengthening ongoing dialogues with related fields of work as the visual, cultural, feminist and gender studies, art criticism, aesthetics, conservation and restoration theory, etc.
It all started in the early 1990s, when IHA was created to support the scientific activities of the Art History Department of the FCSH-UNL. The Institute applied for FCT funding in 1997 and its activities were assessed twice by FCT Panels: in 2001, and 2008. This last evaluation process, carried on by an international jury, improved IHA’s ranking mark, as it gave the occasion for an internal reorganization: 3 research groups were defined by that time lodging PhD researchers and many collaborators.
IHA’s scope and scientific policy changed by that time, while the number of its PhD students and researchers continued to growth, namely through the arrival of PhD members coming from other institutions (e.g. Univ. Aberta, Univ. do Porto, Univ. de Évora, the Faculty of Sciences of NOVA and School of Decorative Arts).
As a response to this exogamous integrative process and continuous growth, IHA’s statutes were changed and a significant transformation of its structure was made possible in 2010: (1) a new Board composed by one director and two vice-directors was formed, integrating for the first time members that did not belong to the FCSH’s Art History Department; (2) IHA’s Research Groups were redesigned, as the increasing number of researchers demanded for a functional and qualitative adjustment. While maintaining 2 groups assessed in 2008 – Contemporary Art Studies and Museum Studies –, IHA’s took into account the observations of the 2008 FCT Evaluation Panel and therefore substituted its former Architecture and Visual Arts section by several new groups focused in Classical and Late Antiquity, Medieval, Early Modern, Decorative Arts, Lisbon Studies and Art Theory.
These smaller research groups have complementary skills and emphasis. They are the basis of IHA’s current structure.
IHA’s groups operate under the supervision of a scientific coordinator, and their internal structure responds to concrete research themes and projects. Complementary support from partner institutions, and contributions from technological and innovation areas have been also key. Group’s management and specific goals follow the strategic policy defined by IHA’s board with the approval of both its Scientific Committee and the External Supervision Committee.
Indeed, 2010’s regulations maintained a Scientific Committee integrating all PhD researchers. This Committee kept supporting and regularly assessing the Board’s work, and is responsible for (1) the approval of IHA’s scientific project; (2) the constitution of new, or the adjustment of the existing guidelines, groups and investigation programs; (3) the discussion of plans and the approval of annual activity reports and budgets; and (4) the election of the Board.
Following FCT’s regulations, IHA has also set up an External Advisory Committee whose contributes were first gathered in October 2011.
IHA’s structure was set up to promote the international visibility of Portuguese Art History by the dissemination of research through refereed publications, general and monographic training courses, conferences, etc, and to support its researchers throughout all research procedures (finding opportunities and funding, providing help in application processes, managing projects, etc). The Planning & Management office, coordinated by a science manager, has a key role in this process. Besides permanent assistance to the Board, the P&M staff works in close connection with all researchers and external institutions (namely those involved in ongoing research projects). P&M office is committed to (1) high level management, (2) assessing the impact of IHA’s research and measuring its “added value”, (3) outreaching a wide group of stakeholders, (4) developing and operating an e-infrastructure able to support IHA-based research, as well as to ensure IHA’s international visibility, and (5) promoting an open and collaborative research environment.