Human Arenas

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 1–5 | Cite as

Defining Cultivation Rate

  • Luca TateoEmail author
  • Giuseppina Marsico


After the first year of its existence, Human Arenas is celebrating quite impressive results obtained during 2018. The core of the journal’s editorial policy is the innovative concept of “cultivation rate,” which is challenging a too rigid and short-sighted academic publishing system. Human Arenas editorial policy is oriented towards the other as an epistemic subject to be first welcomed, then understood in her own worldview and then, possibly, supported in developing further her line of reasoning. This editorial is also a public act of acknowledgement to all the scholars who helped us promoting the idea of reviewing as a scientific dialogue and mutual learning process. Finally, we outline the scientific endeavors of Human Arenas for the year 2019, wishing to be the fertile cultivation soil in which human minds can garden the new ideas of the future.


Cultural psychology Cultivation rate Gratitude Inclusive distinction Decolonization 

Introduction: First Birthday

It is time to celebrate the first year of existence of Human Arenas. As celebrations can very easily slip into boring self-congratulations, we will just very briefly remind our path until now. When we started this journal, we as editors had few but very confused ideas (Tateo and Marsico 2018). Nevertheless, what had the firm intention was to provide a space for a free, innovative, and borderless scientific debate. We wanted original and rigorous ideas to meet unexpectedly side by side, and to generate innovation and reflection. For this sake, we also created the room for new formats of academic writing and continuous experimentation. Did we succeed? It is of course not clear and it is not up to the editors to answer. In 2018, Human Arenas published 49 papers of very different kind and topic. From March 2018 to January 2019, the articles of Human Arenas have been downloaded 20,600 times, and we found it amazing, considering that it is just a brand new and quite unknown journal.

What is the profile of the journal emerging from the articles we published, so far? In the first place, there is a fundamental concern for the relationship between epistemology and methodology (Valsiner 2017). Our authors have proposed several interesting ideas about epistemological issues in social sciences. In particular, from the cross-reading of articles (see for instance Feil and Olteanu 2018; Fossa 2018), one can see an interesting dialogue between cultural psychology, hermeneutics, phenomenology, and semiotics with their respective epistemological stances. On the side of methodology, the different approaches have tried to find a productive source of knowledge in using auto ethnography as a flexible method to access experience. Auto ethnography has been for instance used in a collective way (Tateo et al. 2018) or in combination with introspection (Burkart 2018) and poetic writing (Rhodes et al. 2018), providing a number of interesting insights for further explorations.

As editors, we are also particularly happy with the variety of arenas of human activity touched by our contributors. The articles draw a picture of human arenas as mobile complexes of interrelated conducts, meanings, and values. Movement across contexts, borders, times, and identities is the constant feature of human activity. Thus, all the cultural solution elaborated in different socio-historical contexts to regulate movement become relevant objects of interdisciplinary investigations. It means that any border between academic disciplines, between theory and practice, is not a scaffold rather a serious constraint to deep understanding. As Roth (2018) maintains with a very elegant empirical example, human events are prismatic rather than stochastic. We need to build a network of multiple perspectives and establish a continuous dialogue between them, in order to advance in our wisdom. This implies a radical overcoming of the ethnocentric perspective in science, no matter if it is cultural ethnocentrism, epistemological ethnocentrism, discipline ethnocentrism, or methodological ethnocentrism. The avenue we suggest is that of syncretism (Tateo and Marsico 2018), that is a deep and open-minded cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches. We optimistically believe that Human Arenas has been a fertile ground for such an enterprise. There is no idea, provided that is rigorous, potentially fruitful, and innovative, that will not be welcome or will not “fit” into the journal.

As lovely parents, we are proudly watching this 1-year baby growing up and achieving some developmental goals. Yet every parent is mostly concerned with the child’s future, rather than past memories. We will condense this feeling using the verses of John Donne (1572–1631), who reminds us, in his 1601 poem “The Anniversary,” that the time-to-be matters more than elapsed time.

“28 Let us love nobly, and live, and add again

29 Years and years unto years, till we attain

30 To write threescore: this is the second of our reign.” (Donne 1601/2008, p.534).

So, what will happen in the second year of Human Arenas?

Cultivation Rate

We will continue our work of cultivating ideas! We do not want to gain our editorial reputation because of a high rejection rate. On the contrary, we want to help in growing ideas, debates, and new form of scientific dialogues. Studies in rejection rate clearly show that this parameter is not directly associated with the quality of the journal (Schultz 2010). On the contrary, due to the number of factors and actors involved in the selection process, there can be a number of (idiosyncratic) reasons for the rejection decision.

We started this editorial enterprise with an educated guess: that of “cultivation rate” (Tateo and Marsico 2018). We imported this concept from Ethnobotany (Cotton and Wilkie 1996), meaning it has a sort of circumvention strategy “to challenge” a too rigid and short-sighted academic publishing system. Cultivation, as one of the most essential human activities, is neither random nor tokenistic. It is teleological in its essence. Cultivation has a purpose, providing collectives with food, esthetic pleasure, or natural protection, that in return is shaping the culture of the collective, e.g., rituals and habits. Cultivation is a border zone between the natural and artificial, an activity in which “co-evolutionary relationships take place as a mosaic of differing pulls and pushes across geographic space” (Fuller et al. 2012, p. 142). Thus, cultivation is not implying the idea of domination, rather the idea of co-evolution.

In Human Arenas, co-evolution takes the shape of mutual learning: rather than evaluating papers, the editors, the reviewers, and the authors engage in a dialogue to learn from each other and co-develop the quality of ideas. The entire editorial policy has been, then, oriented towards the other as an epistemic subject to be first welcomed, then understood in her own worldview and then, possibly, supported in developing further her line of reasoning.

When the “cultivation rate” is assumed as the guideline, there is no more room for any judgmental attitude towards the others perspectives. There is no reason for exclusion on the basis of rigid a priori parameters. After all, the academic writing is in itself an arena where the I-Other-World relationship is at stake (Simão 2012). When we started the Human Arena “adventure,” we committed ourselves with this kind of ideal function: being “gardeners of human minds”. We were not alone in this task as we found very good companions along the path. Surprisingly enough, they were mostly senior scholars who helped us in the review process with an open-minded intellectual attitude, flavored with a genuine enthusiasm. Surprisingly enough, instead, many refusals to review the submitted manuscripts came from junior researchers. One can think that the reason for such a “rejection rate” to perform reviews was due the strict academic schedule, which puts the youngest under pressure. It is of course about that, but another reason for the refusals was, instead, something like “this is not my field of interest.” What is that? Who is this academic goodness to whom you have sold your intellectual curiosity? This is a sign of the sad academic times we are living. The young minds soon transformed in academic soldier wearing uniforms.


The work of reviewing is integral part of scientific endeavor and it should be taken as an opportunity for the reviewer herself to learn from the others. To whom who took the review task with this spirit (and were many), we sent our deeply appreciation. We owe a special thanks to Raffaele De Luca Picione and Fernando Andacht, who acted as reviewers in 2018 but have not been included in the acknowledgement list at the end of the year. It was our mistake and we feel it is important to fully acknowledge those scholars who are always ready to perform reviews, despite their many commitments.

We open the second volume of Human Arenas with a special section about gratitude. It is not of course just a symbolic way to thank the many authors and reviewers, and the members of the editorial staff and the scientific board. It is actually a reflection about a feeling that seems quite at odds nowadays. The contributors discuss relationships of gratitude as forms of auto and hetero regulation, creating a hierarchical system of rights and obligations. The year 2019 will also see a number of innovative and thoughtful articles. Human Arenas will touch relevant arenas of the contemporary human experience, such as movement and borders, development and education, and ethics and epistemology. Human Arenas will soon launch a new call for special sections about “the problem of origins” in a multidisciplinary perspective. One can see the power of this theme in history, politics, and social life. Contemporary collectives seem to strive for meaning about their origins, where they come from, how origins are able to legitimate (or exclude from) fundamental human rights.

Conclusions: Towards New Horizons

In the contemporary world, the making of distinctions and of the building (real and ideal) walls is leading to forms of social myopia and to active cultural suppression. Human Arenas will try to continue promoting new horizons in social sciences and humanities, acknowledging the co-presence and the mutual relations of the distinguished opposites (voices, theories, perspectives, etc.). The dynamic process of inclusive distinction through voicing/silencing/ventriloquing is a challenging terrain to prove the new model in knowledge construction that Human Arenas wants to stimulate. There are already several initiatives in this direction. For instance, in 2019, the Centre for Cultural Psychology at Aalborg University and the University of Sydney are organizing a winter school on “The decolonization of imagination: the dynamics of voicing, silencing, ventriloquing and speaking on behalf.” The current struggle between post-globalization, neo-nationalist and post-colonialist perspectives, and the relevance of identity politics are elements that call for further research and debate about how human collectives work in voicing (promote the expression), silencing (making invisible), ventriloquing (projecting its own values), or speaking on behalf of (inhibiting autonomous expression) diversity, its legitimation and power dynamics in the current collective processes of colonization, decolonization, and re-colonization.

Who, why, when, where, and through what means this process is unfolded and what are the psycho-social features that it promotes/inhibits? This would be one of future fertile cultivation soils in the human minds for gardening new ideas.



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Cultural PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.University of SalernoFiscianoItaly

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