A hallmark of human civilization has been to see ‘culture’ as a defining feature of humanity, epitomized in approaching the ‘humanities’ as the study of culture. Cultural Science: A multidisciplinary journal for the study of more-than-human culture radically breaks with this tradition and extends the domain of the study of culture beyond the human, both in the dimensions of multi-species and machine culture, and by considering all forms of cultural hybridization in a more-than human world. ‘Cultural Science’ investigates structures, interactions, and processes of cultural systems at all levels of analysis and scales of application. It approaches culture as a semiotic medium integrating creative processes in the biosphere, anthroposphere and technosphere as constitutive layers in the life of planet Earth.
‘Cultural Science’ promotes inter- and transdisciplinary methodological pluralism, reaching from the classical sciences such as biology or ecology to established approaches in the social sciences and the humanities and beyond, venturing into posthumanist alternatives that investigate more-than-human forms of cultural creativity, diffusion, and tradition. ‘Cultural science’ endorses theoretical innovations that stand in line with coevolutionary theories bridging the natural and the human sciences and with novel views on agency and materiality that pursue ontological unification of human and non-human domains of meaning. It encourages active dialogue with science and technology studies, evolutionary and institutional economics, cultural evolution studies, biosemiotics, complexity science, or network analysis, specifying the ‘uses of culture’ from personal meanings to planetary platforms and systems of meaning. In doing so, we assign a crucial role to culture as medium of more-than-human action meeting the existential challenges of the Anthropocene.
‘Cultural Science’ looks forward to publishing new work that may be critical, analytical and/or empirical, but is most often dialogical; interested in the production and translation of new ideas and knowledge, especially across perceived and disputed borders between systems, groups, and identities as well as academic disciplines.
Contributions to the journal transcend specialist topical foci while remaining on the firm ground of the respective disciplinary methodologies. Exemplary topical fields include:
Cultural Science Journal was launched in 2008 as part of the research program of the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and John Hartley’s ARC Federation Fellowship. It published 14 issues between 2008 and 2016, before transferring to Ubiquity Press where it continued until 2021. In 2021, the journal moved on to a new home at the Cultural Data Analytics Open Lab (CUDAN) Tallinn University, Estonia. The editors-in-chief were Indrek Ibrus and Maximilian Schich. The journal is now published on the Sciendo platform, a subsidiary of De Gruyter. In 2023, the journal moved on to its third transformation, while remaining on the Sciendo platform, with new editor-in-chief Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, and a second editorial office at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at Erfurt University, Germany, working in tandem with the Tallinn offfice.
Building on the work of Raymond Williams, ‘Cultural Science 2.0’, as it was framed by founding editor John Hartley, sought advances not only in the micro-contexts of culture, but also in systematic and general processes and the mutually conditioning relationships of micro, meso and macro contexts. Hartley and colleagues (Jason Potts, Lucy Montgomery, Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, Paul Ormerod and others) launched an effort aimed at conceptualising and studying such relationships systematically. The journal worked towards transdisciplinary frameworks linking the study of culture with evolutionary and institutional economics, complexity science and other evolutionary approaches to creative change.
This work has been pathbreaking, feeding into new approaches and further studies into evolutionary processes in media markets and cultural industries internationally (emergent fields of media innovation studies, cross-innovation systems, open publishing and so on). At the same time, parallel approaches have emerged linking the study of culture with other disciplines especially evolutionary biosciences, but also mathematics, physics, data science and network science, etc., resulting in novel and epoch making approaches such as cultural analytics, cultural evolution studies, computational humanities and social science, etc. ‘Cultural Science’, it can be argued, is evolving into an intensely dialogic, multidisciplinary and an ‘explosively’ (to use a Juri Lotman’s term) evolving domain.
With the third transformation, Cultural Science 3.0, the journal further expands its reach, redefining and co-creating cultural science in the Anthropocene, embracing cutting edge developments in the posthumanist movement, while keeping its roots in emphasising the coevolutionary systems-based approach to culture explored since 2008.
In this dynamically developing context, Cultural Science: A multidisciplinary journal for the study of more-than human culture wants to provide an arena where the relevant dialogues are held, where centuries of humanities-based knowledge on culture’s forms, languages and systems of meaning can meet the most contemporary scientific methods, where new questions are asked, where novel conceptualisations can meet or emerge from rigorous empirical or analytical work.
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