Tag Archives: culture

Cultural Traits. A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Cultural Diversity

Out now!

9783319243474Understanding Cultural Traits: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Cultural Diversity, Edited by Fabrizio Panebianco and Emanuele Serrelli.

Interested in writing a review? Read it online for free and get your free hardcopy! Go on the dedicated homepage and then “Access an Online Book Review Copy” via the link under “Service for this Book”. After successful registration on Springer site, you will be provided access to the online content of the book for a period of 6 months. After publication of the review in the journal, you will receive a hard copy of the book. Continue reading Cultural Traits. A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Cultural Diversity

Anthropocene Campus: Experiment in Higher Education

I participate in ANTHROPOCENE CAMPUSanthropocene, Berlin, November 14-22, 2014. I have been selected among “100 outstanding post graduates as well as actors from culture, society, and the arts”, nominated by prof. Elena Bougleux (University of Bergamo).

Encouraging new forms of transdisciplinary discourse and research THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT 2013/14 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (HKW) aims to investigate the manifold implications of the Anthropocene hypothesis for cultures of knowledge. If indeed humankind has become the dominant biogeophysical force, effecting changes on a planetary scale, how can the arts, sciences and humanities contribute to a critical awareness, understanding and responsible co-shaping of these transformations? How can creative and problem-oriented modes of knowledge production and educational practices be developed?

Copyright: Globaia, Planet Under Pressure, SEI, SRC, CSIRO. This film was commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, London 26-29 March, a major international conference focusing on solutions. planetunderpressure2012.net

The ANTHROPOCENE CURRICULUM addresses these questions by way of a cross-disciplinary experiment in higher education. Instigated by HKW and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG) the project has brought together a group of 27 renowned university teachers from science, humanities, and art & design to collaboratively develop a set of topics relevant to the Anthropocene in an attempt to encourage cross-disciplinary thinking, mutual learning, and civic commitment as integral part into the curricula of universities and research institutions.

This exemplary curriculum will be put into teaching practice at the ANTHROPOCENE CAMPUS taking place November 14-22, 2014 at HKW in Berlin. One hundred international participants will be given the opportunity to engage in this curricular experiment, contributing their own perspectives and expertise. The Campus provides a transdisciplinary co-learning space for scholars from a wide range of disciplinary, academic, and professional backgrounds and opens up a forum for exploring the scopes, scales, and designs of Anthropocene relevant knowledge. The ANTHROPOCENE CAMPUS will be a central component of a series of public events at HKW – including lectures, workshops, exhibitions, screenings, and artistic events –, by which the two-year ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT will come to its close. An essential part of the output of the ANTHROPOCENE CURRICULUM will be the collaborative production of an ANTHROPOCENE COURSEBOOK.

Emanuele at the Anthropocene Campus:

More pictures at Haus der Kulturen der Welt website.

Cultural Traits and Multidisciplinary Dialogue

9783319243474…We have walked on a fine line: the notion of a cultural trait is interesting because it has something to say to many sciences, but, paradoxically, also because it generates harsh conflicts on top scientific journals more and more frequently. Historical linguistics and cultural evolution are two of many fields where these clashes happen, and we want to hint to those conflicts before delving into the contribution we have to offer.

For all the represented disciplines, the book constitutes a first step towards an ever-deferred interdisciplinary dialogue, and towards the construction of common working platforms. For the reader, Cultural Traits is a way to enter a representative sample of the intellectual diversity that surrounds such an important topic as culture, and a means to stimulate innovative avenues of research. Each of the involved disciplines enters the debate with a self-presenting attitude, emphasizing its own methodological practices, and explaining whether and how cultural traits have a role in its own research programs and epistemic goals. Along these lines some chapters are more methodological, while others address case studies, and methodological aspects are inferred more indirectly. Are there differences in aspects of culture that are studied by different disciplines? What definitions of cultural traits are on the table? How do we delimit a trait? How is the problem declined at different observational scales, and which scales are most in focus? Do traits travel in geographical space, and how? Are there other relevant spaces? How are traits modified in their diffusion? Is it possible and useful to build models of this diffusion? Only a strong multidisciplinary perspective can help to clarify these problems about cultural traits, by means of which we understand our precious heritage, cultural diversity…


Panebianco F, Serrelli E (2016). Cultural traits and multidisciplinary dialogue. Introduction to Panebianco F, Serrelli E, eds., Understanding cultural traits. A multidisciplinary perspective on cultural diversity. Springer, Switzerland, Chapter 1, pp. 1-20. ISBN 978-3-319-24347-4 [DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-24349-8_1] [BOA][RG]

Ilya Tëmkin – Perils and promises of cultural phylogenies: evolution of the Baltic Psaltery

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Perils and promises of cultural phylogenies: Evolution of the Baltic Psaltery

Ilya Tëmkin
National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) and NOVA (Northern Virginia Community College)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 12:00pm
Room U6/3061, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

psaltery-phylogenyAbstract: The new millennium has brought a new impetus for rigorous historical reconstruction into the field of material cultural evolution by applying phylogenetic analysis (originally developed for discerning evolutionary relationships among living organisms). A detailed study of the Baltic psaltery, a plucked stringed instrument that has enjoyed popularity in Northeastern Europe since the Middle Ages, reveals perils and promises of these methods, particularly of novel network-based approaches. Every group of people that has preserved the instrument, regards it as an essential symbol of their ethnic identity with its presumed origin and significance deeply rooted in traditional culture, as evidenced through mythology, epic poetry, songs, and ritual. Despite its cultural significance, the history of the Baltic psaltery has been a controversial subject for over a century. The patterns of historical relationships revealed by phylogenetics-inspired approaches may help settling the controversy and link disparate data on the iconography, archaeology, and cultural anthropology of the Baltic psaltery.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

Boundaries, foundation, and physics of Babel: the interdisciplinary study of language

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563). Source: Wikipedia. Originally from Google Art Project. Levels adjusted and uploaded by Dcoetzee.

If, by ‘Babel’, we mean the set languages that have appeared in the world, we may want to research the ‘boundaries of Babel’ by asking whether the expansion of Babel is prevented (i.e., whether unobserved languages are impossible languages), and, if so, by which factors. The boundaries of Babel are being explored by partnerships of linguists and neuroscientists. Neo-chomskian approaches find evidence of neural networks dedicated to language processing, and study how these networks constrain the space of possible grammars, whereas lexico-grammar looks at neuroscientific evidence that syntax is not a separate function in the brain. Research questions also expand beyond a tight focus on the brain-language relationship. By ‘foundations of Babel’ we refer to broader, ancient brain functions in which articulated language is embedded. Imitation can be one of those functions. ‘Physics of Babel’ refers to many extra-brain factors that are lacking in non-human species, and that together make language possible. Research on the boundaries of Babel is a fascinating and open scenario, not only interdisciplinary, but also multi-directional, beyond the language function and beyond the exclusive role of the brain.


Look for it in the Publications page (with additional links):

Serrelli, E (2013). I confini, le fondamenta e la fisica di Babele: lo studio interdisciplinare delle lingue e del linguaggio. Scienza & Filosofia 10, 53-67. ISSN 2036-2927 [http://hdl.handle.net/10281/49596]

http://issuu.com/scicam/docs/05__serrelli?e=1070454/6097963

Malatesta, Schmidt, Squarcina – Not just limits: the geographical boundaries as places of meeting and diffusion of cultural traits

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Not just limits: the geographical boundaries as places of meeting and diffusion of cultural traits

Stefano Malatesta, Marcella Schmidt di Friedberg, Enrico Squarcina
Università di Milano Bicocca

May 16th, 2013, 2:30 pm
Room U6/3061, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

Fonte dell’immagine: Bianchi E., Perussia F., Il centro di Milano: percezione e realtà, 1978.
Fonte dell’immagine:
Bianchi E., Perussia F.,
Il centro di Milano:
percezione e realtà, 1978.

Abstract: Boundaries are a consolidating subject in the contemporary study of human geography. Newman’s observations justify an analysis of the persistent geopolitical and cultural action played by these objects in all their forms, even if consider contemporary spaces as de-territorialized and borderless and regions only as elements of a global network. In fact material and non-material limits are meaningful sources of information for reading the structure of territories and for understanding their social, cultural political, ecosystemic and historical relationships: boundaries leave landmarks (material and non-material) on landscapes, immediately related to their own geopolitical function, these landmarks become objects of human perception (primarily visual) and are also the subject of political representation (landscapes); boundaries are the primitives of spatial knowledge on which peoples build their own geographical images of places; boundaries are a mighty basis of the mimetic function played by the cartographic language. Therefore, considering both their physical and narrative dimensions, we can state that geographical boundaries rather than being limits or barriers, are places directly involved in the diffusion of cultural traits. This issue will be discussed focusing on the role played by limits and boundaries on landscapes, cartography and mental representations of space.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

Pierluigi Cuzzolin – Fatiche e miserie dell’espressione iuxta propria principia

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Fatiche e miserie dell’espressione iuxta propria principia

Pierluigi Cuzzolin
Università di Bergamo

February 28th, 2013, 12pm
Room U6/3061, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

telesioAbstract: Nel De rerum natura iuxta propria principia (prima edizione nel 1565) Bernardino Telesio utilizzava questo sintagma per propugnare uno studio dell’oggetto d’indagine secondo principi e criteri di indagine propri di quell’oggetto. Da allora l’espressione iuxta propria principia è stata spesso usata in modo strumentale. Intento di questa presentazione non è quello di ripercorrere questo capitolo di storia delle idee, peraltro ancora da scrivere, ma di vedere come l’invocazione ai propria principia in linguistica sia stato un fenomeno più travagliato e complesso che per altre discipline. Da questo punto di vista, parlare di propria principia in linguistica significa aver chiamato in causa, quasi a volerle porre a proprio fondamento teorico, molte altre discipline, dalla filosofia alla biologia alla fisica alla economia alle scienze cognitive più in generale, e sempre con alterne fortune.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

Mario Barenghi – Nothing but survival: On the origin and spread of literature

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Nothing but survival: On the origin and spread of literature

Mario Barenghi
University of Milano Bicocca

January 31, 2013, 2:30pm
Room U6/3061, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

literature-survivalAbstract: For a long time literary theorists have been concerned with the question “What is literature?”. This issue does not raise the same interest in our days. After all, what really matters is what we do with literature, whatever it is. Time has come for a comparison between literary and evolutionary studies. The question we should ask is: “Why is literature?” Where do poetic uses of language rise from? For what reason or reasons, in a remote era of our history, our ancestors have started to spend (or lavish) both time and mental energies in seemingly free and relaxed verbal activities which are unrelated to immediate needs? Which are the features of human behaviour that literature tends to foster and strengthen? In this workshop Mario Barenghi argues that literature’s aim is nothing but survival.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.

Tracing traits in linguistics, economics, and evolutionary biology. An interdisciplinary workshop

CISEPS – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences

Tracing traits in linguistics, economics, and evolutionary biology. An interdisciplinary workshop

  • Federica Da Milano, Linguist, University of Milano Bicocca
  • Nicoletta Puddu, Linguist, University of Cagliari
  • Fabrizio Panebianco, Economist, University of Milano Bicocca
  • Emanuele Serrelli, Philosopher of Biology, University of Milano Bicocca

Thursday, December 13, 2012, h 14:00
Room U6/367, Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, Milano

networks-cisepsAbstract: The seminar will present and compare the methods used in linguistics, economics, and evolutionary biology to study traits in their different domains: language features, behaviors and beliefs, genes and phenotypic characteristics. Federica Da Milano and Nicoletta Puddu will present phylogenetic models of language change and illustrate them with the particular geo-linguistic case of Sardegna. Fabrizio Panebianco will outline evolutionary kinds of models in economics. Emanuele Serrelli will explain tree and network analyses used to study shared traits and contacts between organisms. The open discussion will bring some reflections on the transfer of models and ideas between different fields, bringing about productive interchange with the participants and the audience of different specializations.

The seminar is part of the CISEPS project The diffusion of cultural traits, whose goal is to trigger interdiciplinary debates, emphasizing common problems and peculiarities among economics, philosophy, anthropology, geography, history, biology and many more fields. Thinking in terms of cultural traits – i.e., characters depending in some way on social learning – doesn’t imply exhaustion of cultural processes; rather, it means thinking critically to scientific models and metaphors for studying culture.