INTERDISCIPLINARY
MAGIC

by E. L. Cerroni-Long

liza.cerroni-long@emich.edu

 

If knowledge is food for our minds, and scholarly disciplines are the variously shaped containers in which this food gets to be stored, then interdisciplinarity is the magic tool allowing us to merge some of these containers, and thus enrich our nutrition.

Because I have had the great good fortune of being academically trained in areas of study that are intrinsically interdisciplinary, and I constantly apply multifarious perspectives in my teaching and research, I truly appreciate the creative spark stimulated by encountering different scholarly treatments of topics I am interested in, and I particularly enjoy the serendipity — the magic — by which such encounters often come about.

Some time ago, having completed the manuscript of a book on Japanese culture on which I had worked for several decades, I decided to propose its publication to Angelo Pontecorboli Editore (EDAP), whom I knew as the publisher of the only two internationally influential journals in anthropology produced in Italy: the International Journal of Anthropology (IJA), and Human Evolution (HE). As it happens, my book prospectus reached the publisher at just about the same time as the bilingual book “Italia e Giappone a confronto: cultura, psicologia, arti”, edited by the ISI Florence Director Stefano Baldassarri, was coming out under the EDAP imprint.

Intrigued by the coincidence, I promptly got hold of the book and thoroughly enjoyed reading some of its sections that relate to my interest in cross-cultural aesthetics and neuroanthropology. In particular, I immediately felt that they complemented extremely well an article I had written some time ago on the topic of “Art and Ideology: Body Representation in East Asian Art.” Thus, I began thinking that if some of these book chapters (selected both for their topical relevance and for being written in English) could be reprinted, together with my article, in a special issue of Human Evolution, they would constitute an excellent text for the class on “Cultural Heritage & Neuroanthropology” that I am now developing for the interdisciplinary program in Cultural Museum Studies I coordinate.

All that was needed was to draft a proposal for such a special issue of Human Evolution, to be titled “Evolution & Aesthetics: Visual Arts in Comparative Perspective,” and to propose it to both Angelo Pontecorboli and Stefano Baldassarri. My proposal was received enthusiastically, and Prof. Baldassarri, who is himself the epitome of interdisciplinarity, got immediately to work on contacting the authors of the book sections selected for reprinting, and on all of the further editorial details necessary for finalizing the special issue. On his part, Angelo Pontecorboli was again the most supportive and efficient publisher I ever worked with, and the HE special issue has just come out in print, the product of a most enjoyable stroke of interdisciplinary magic!

On cover: Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) – Study of the human body

 

HUMAN EVOLUTION is published as one volume per year in four issues.

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