What does SHEMAS?

[provisional aims and means from the Statutes – not enforced yet]

The goals of SHEMAS are:

  • to promote and develop Historical European Martial Arts Studies;
  • to support and coordinate research projects;
  • to favour communication and collaboration between independent and affiliated researchers, as well as between researchers and practitioners;

To achieve its goals, SHEMAS proposes:

  • to run an Internet website with a database of portfolios for researcher and research project and a specialised bibliography;
  • to organise International conferences dedicated to Historical European Martial Arts, as well as panels within renowned International congresses;
  • to provide or facilitate: high standard publication, funding application, institutional collaboration;
  • to communicate and provide targeted information between academic circles and communities of practitioners.

A mission statement will be available at the release of the website next May.

What is HEMA research?

Research is a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding (Cambridge Dictionary).

HEMA research is therefore any research related to Historical European Martial Arts.

Research is valuable only if it is shared and confronted to other research. There are different channels to publish or share research, in the scholarly context, but also within the communities of practitioners. If intended only to the practitioners, the research can be shared in teaching situations, or to larger communities in workshops or conferences. However, if the research aims for a larger outreach, it should be documented on paper or electronically. On the one end of the scale, there are the self-publication (book on demand, digital publication with unstable url, document in open-circulation, or video); on the other end are peer-reviewed publications by scholarly publishing house or journal.

The concept of practice as research (PaR) is often understood in the fields of research inquiring about practices in their cultural context as relevant to bridge the gap between practitioners and scholars. However not any practice can be considered as research in its scholarly definition. The same kind of nuance has been put forward for experiencing versus experimenting. Indeed, experiencing for oneself and reaching discoveries that are not documented is not the same as following a specific protocol according to an established method, producing data that are shared and discussed through publication. Researching for oneself or for a limited targeted audience without publication cannot be considered as research at the same level as a published research.

Any research can be proposed to SHEMAS, however each research project and output will be sorted out by series of objective labels, to allow the reader to understand its format, aims and potential impact. SHEMAS distinguishes between the different categories of research based on the following criteria:

Targeted audience: scholarly audience, communities of practitioners, general public

Format: scholarly publication (with peer-review), publication (without peer-review, but edited), self-publication, orally transmitted (workshop, unpublished lecture)

Support: paper publication, electronic publication, video, conference, workshop

Who can be considered as a “researcher”?

As argued in Jaquet (2016, and forthcoming) the issue of definition and identification of the researcher status challenges the potential development of the field of research itself. It also concerns the eligibility towards funding schemes. The problem comes from status recognition and qualitative criteria for evaluation of the research. If the same term (research) is used for activities related to scholarly context and those of the communities of practitioners, the different researchers do not produce or share their research by the same channels. The different activities qualified as research do not pursue the same objectives, might or might not follow academic methods, and are addressed to different type of audiences. The expertise and qualitative criteria are also different (defined by academic institution versus not standardised in the communities of practitioners).

The organisations aiming at governing or supporting HEMA activities do not yet have set a framework for recognition of the researcher status within the communities of practitioners. Therefore, it is difficult to identify and to evaluate the researcher within those communities, especially if they do not publish or share their research.

SHEMAS distinguish the following status:

Status Affiliated researcher Independent published researcher Independent unpublished researcher
Description Has a main professional occupation related to research Has a main professional occupation unrelated to research
Affiliation Currently affiliated to an academic or patrimonial institution Currently not affiliated to an academic or patrimonial institution
Publication Physical or digital publication with peer-review Physical or digital publication without peer-review process
Education Master or higher (PhD) undefined


Remarks: Affiliation means that the academic or patrimonial employ the researcher. Students (bachelor, master, PhD) cannot be considered as affiliated, unless they are employed (might be the case for some PhD student with an academic position).

Only publication with peer-review process count as publication for the status of published researcher. Peer-review means an evaluation process of the publication by the publishing house or the journal itself (no internal or self-organised review by peers).

Nota bene. This distinction between types of researcher is not to be seen as quality-oriented. Each type of researcher may produce different kind of research, addressed to different audiences, aiming at different quality criteria.

Why SHEMAS? Why not using already existing organisations or entities aiming at promoting research?

We think that only an independent well-governed organisation with institutional support might be able to foster the field of research within academic and patrimonial institution. One of the main reason is actually money. None of the existing entities are ideal interlocutors for academic institutions or funding institutes. The idea is to be able to support research with grants and for that we need a non-profit, well governed organization that can ensure the scientific quality of the research.

  • Why not HEMAC? HEMAC is a very well established non-profit entity that ensure communication between researchers chosen by peers, but it is a non-governed body that has no academic anchors.
  • Why not IFHEMA? IFHEMA is an International Federation whose main priority would be to offer HEMA an international recognition as a contemporary activity (may it be martial sport or martial art). Promoting research is part of the process, but such a body cannot be an ideal partner for academic institutions and it will deal with enough issues to leave research coordination and promotion to another entity.
  • Why not APD? Acta Periodica Duellatorum is a scholarly journal with a scientific board. It promotes HEMA researches by offering a publishing medium.
  • Why not Hroarr, Wiktenauer or other web based entities? Those entities offer a medium to publish research work and favour communication between researchers, as well as open-access to resources. However, none of those have proper academic anchors.

I’m not an academic, what’s the benefit for me as an independent researcher?

Visibility for your studies and research endeavours. Networking with other researchers (and being informed of latest call for papers / projects). Being listed as a researcher in a database of portfolios. Moreover, in a near Future, SHEMAS will deliver research certificates aiming at easing access to academic and patrimonial resources for non-affiliated researchers. Lastly, filling up the forms for record tracks and portfolios will provide data that can be exported for curriculum vitae.

On a more selfless note, by recording your involvement in HEMA studies, you also give visibility to the importance of research in HEMA practices (as opposed to a public image focused on sportive side and leisure activity).

I’m not sure about my eligibility, what’s the criteria for membership?

Student is any individual doing a high education diploma (Bachelor, Master, Certificate of Advanced Studies), currently affiliated to an academic institution as student. This includes unwaged PhD students.

Affiliated researcher is any individual who has a position at an academic or patrimonial institution (he/she is paid by a University or a Museum)

Established researcher is any individual with a tenured (or tenure track) position in an academic or patrimonial institution.

Independent researcher is any individual that is not a student or an affiliated researcher. SHEMAS also distinguishes between published and unpublished independent researcher.

How does SHEMAS work? Who decides what?

SHEMAS is a learned society. It is a non-profit association, constituted according to articles 60ff of the Swiss Civil Code. It is governed by Statutes, which will be presented at the constitutive assembly next May. Once enforced, the Statutes will be available on our website.

The highest organ is the General Assembly. Routine matters, mandates and main objectives are carried out under supervision by an elected Executive Committee. Two consultative organs are also at play: the Scientific and Advisory Committees.

Who is involved at this preliminary stage?

This project is carried out by Daniel Jaquet. It reaches out to the members of IFHEMA, through a partnership with this organisation, as well as to the authors, staff and readers of the journal Acta Periodica Duellatorum, also partner. It aims to reach out to any researcher interested in the project. Through publication on Social Media and through dedicated organisation (HEMAC, HROARR), the project was publicly announced in March 2017. The website hosts an open registration for a newsletter. Any person interested can register and receive updates.