The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at PUC-Rio was created in 2009 to support, foster, and promote interdisciplinary and interdepartmental academic actions.

Since the creation of the IEAH, much progress has been made in Brazil and around the world, in terms of public policies, towards the recognition of the need for an interdisciplinary construction of knowledge in Academia. This tendency has even become, in some cases, a tacit or explicit institutional imposition, often followed pro forma in order to garner relevant support. For these reasons, to speak of interdisciplinarity today, ten years after the creation of the IEAHu, may already sound like a mere fad, or like an uncritical submission to ideas that, while still new, have already become preconceived.

Even so, we remain leagues away from the effective incorporation of true interdisciplinarity into our everyday teaching and research practices. Beginning with the departmentalized structures of our universities, which are reflected in the highly specialized bibliographical production and the small circulation of axial ideas developed in each branch of knowledge.  The fragmentation of scopes and the low permeability of the methods of each area, subarea, and sub-subarea — divisions that are increasing ad infinitum — render almost useless the efforts that have been made to reverse the already secular intellectual atomization of the university. Therefore, if on the one hand interdisciplinarity seems to have become a watchword, on the other it is bound to be only a horizon of action, since the further we are from it, the more we seek to get closer to it.

Considering this current panorama, the IEAHu seeks to provoke a debate with respect to what interdisciplinarity means, trying to give some substance to its recognized, but not always founded, necessity. To do so, of course, it will also be necessary to focus on and discuss the very terms that baptized it: does it make sense today to speak of “Advanced Studies?” And above all: what can we understand today by the label '”Humanities?”  Will it be possible to detach the humanities from a Eurocentric notion of the human being, which is a pillar of its own compartmentalization in the university and which IEAHu aims to call into question?  That being the case, first of all, it is urgently necessary to rethink the very notion of “human” in order to avoid a certain globalizing universalism that always runs the risk of being converted into an ethnocentrism disguised as humanism.

In this sense, it will be necessary to reconsider certain questions with respect to the notion of the “Humanities” according to the problems that have emerged in contemporaneity. At the same time, this will only occur if it is possible to make the barriers that prevent a transversal reflection on the topic more fluid: among disciplines, nationalities, identities, ethnicities, genders, continents, the human and the non-human, it is necessary to dare to ask what it would mean, in terms of university policy, to critique, question, abandon, maintain, or resignify our Humanities.

Thus, following the example of the arts, which have long been able to dissolve boundaries and to transversalize concepts in favor of collectively constructive thinking about artistic production itself, the IEAHu intends to be the right place to develop an academic thinking that can also be extra-academic, theoretical-practical, and political. The institute does not intend to perform duties that belong to a department or funding agency, otherwise it will renounce its original purpose. Instead, it wishes to propose contacts, trade, and exchange – not of goods or capital, but of non-capitalizable thinking. With this in mind, the IEAHu not only promotes courses, lectures, and seminars, but also wagers on a policy of selection processes for professors and students of PUC-Rio.

On March 10, 2017, during the release of the first of our selection processes, Prof. Beatriz Resende (UFRJ), our guest speaker, presented a text written especially for the occasion in which she addresses many of the points raised here. She has kindly provided the text to us for this site, and its link can be found below. Enjoy the reading!

Luisa Buarque (IEAHu Coordinator from July 2016 to July 2019).

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