History of the IHC
Establishing a centre dedicated to modern and contemporary history in the early 1990s was a daring and visionary initiative, led by two professors from the NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities (NOVA FCSH): Fernando Rosas and Luís Espinha da Silveira.
Until recently, the study of contemporaneity (and especially of the twentieth century) was still viewed with some suspicion – something that the more sceptical referred to as “journalism with footnotes.”
However, on the international scene, these suspicions were long over past. The procedures and tools of analysis of the historical method were systematically used to clarify, as rigorously as possible, the changes and continuities of the modern and contemporary periods. Furthermore, the public’s appetite for a reading of the recent past that transcended the merely memorialistic record was notorious.
In the Portuguese context, the almost five decades of dictatorship have further increased this curiosity. The research projects and the master’s and doctoral theses developed within the framework of NOVA FCSH and the IHC have made a decisive contribution to the construction of the “Estado Novo” as a field of research unprecedented in Portuguese historiography.
One of the hallmarks of the IHC has always been to function as a space for intergenerational collaboration. Originally made up of a group of professors from the History Department of NOVA FCSH (which included, besides Fernando Rosas and Luís Espinha da Silveira, names such as AH de Oliveira Marques, António Pedro Vicente, António Reis, José Medeiros Ferreira, and Maria of Cândida Proença), the IHC quickly began to aggregate a significant group of young researchers whose pioneering work was recognised by several prizes and other distinctions. Many of them later became historians with established credits and authors of reference works, both at the national and international levels.
In addition to its commitment to research and advanced training, the IHC has never neglected its connection to the world outside academia.
Over the years, it has played an active role in intervening in civic and cultural debates, and in preserving the collective memory. Maria Fernanda Rollo, President of the IHC between 2012 and 2015, took a leading role in the scientific programme of the Centenary of the First Republic and was, before assuming governmental functions, in December 2015, one of the promoters of several initiatives around the centenary of the Great War, in addition to other projects that marked our relationship with civil society, public institutions, and private companies. The first cultural space in Lisbon dedicated to the memory of political repression under the Estado Novo – the Aljube Museum – counted on the scientific advice of several members of the IHC and is directed by Luís Farinha, also a long-time researcher of the IHC.
From a small centre sponsored by NOVA FCSH professors, the IHC has experienced a very remarkable expansion in the last decade, also incorporating researchers and professors from other universities. It is worth noting the partnership that made possible the merge, in 2013-14, of the Centre for Studies of History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Évora in our research structure.
The current configuration of the IHC – based on research groups and thematic lines – results from the adjustment to the requirements of the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (the main, but not exclusive, funding entity) and the acquired meaning of new research agendas.
In addition to a dedicated team of integrated researchers, the IHC also counts on a large network of associates and collaborators, as well as and a well-trained management team – all the more reason to look forward to the challenges ahead with optimism!
List of Presidents:
Jul 17, 2020
Two new projects, one European and one national, will be a significant stimulus to research into forced labour in Nazi camps.
Jul 10, 2020
Today we launched the project Memória COVID, which aims to document the ongoing pandemic through personal testimonies.
Jul 2, 2020
Pedro Martins is the new Editorial Director of the journal Práticas da História – Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past.