The Institute of Habsburg and Balkan Studies (IHB) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences adopted its new name in January 2020. Founded in 2013, it was originally known as the “Institute of Modern and Contemporary History”. Founding director Michael Gehler (Hildesheim) was tasked with running its scholarly affairs, with the principal remit of forging the various institutions into a single research unit.
The Institute was namely not set up from scratch, but emerged in the course of a reform implemented by the Academy between 2011 and 2013 with the aim of clearly separating its roles as a scholarly society and research organisation and opening up new perspectives for the country’s research institutions. Three of the Academy’s long-existing bodies were merged, having already formed the “Modern and Contemporary Historical Research Centre” since 2011. The Centre comprised
- the “Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon und biographische Dokumentation” (Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia), which functioned as an independent institute of the Academy as a whole from 1994 onwards, having emerged from the “Kommission für die Ausarbeitung eines Österreichischen Biographischen Lexikons” incepted in 1946;
- the “Kommission für die Geschichte der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie” founded in 1859 and renamed the “Kommission für die Geschichte der Habsburger Monarchie” in 1993. From 2008 onwards, the Commission also comprised the Edition of the Minutes of the Council of Ministers of Austria and of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which for a long time was based at the Osteuropa-Institut in Vienna, which was disbanded in 2006;
- the “Historische Kommission”, founded in 1849 and merged with the “Kommission für die Geschichte Österreichs” incepted in 1959.
Following a strategic decision by the Academy’s Presiding Committee, steps were taken in 2017 to transform the profile of work at the institute. This included restructuring the research sections and establishing a research unit for Balkan research the same year.
In 2019, it was decided to continue the Austrian Biographical Encyclopedia with a different structural link to the Academy. It was also decided to incorporate the Division of History of Art, which until late 2019 had been part of the “Institute of History of Art and Musicology”. These measures, together with modifications to the research foci of the research sections, led to the decision to reflect this process of transformation by renaming the institute in line with its research profile. The new name came into force in January 2020.