Course 2012-2013 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 19
ACME (6 credits - II sem. - OB  |  SECS-P/12)
Course Director:

Classes: 19 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

This course constitutes an introduction to the complex field of intercultural studies. The aim of the course is to provoke critical thinking, self-engagement and active debate on issues of intercultural contact, conflict and dialogue. The course equippes the students with the intellectual tools and the basic disciplinary skills to comprehend and further investigates the complex anthropological, historical, religious, literary and linguistic fundaments that nourish both intercultural misunderstandings and encounters.

Course Content Summary

The course is organized into two main blocks of activities: a series of lectures and a fieldwork.

Lectures à Edward Said's intellectual definition of Orientalism as the dominant ideological framework which took over Western culture since the 18th century, and which produced and enforced a fictitious image of the Orient, instrumental to the West's colonial claims, has proved immensely influential in the development of the discipline of Intercultural Studies since the 1970s. The course takes off from Said's text, and subsequently outlines the long-term developments and evolutions of Orientalist discourse. In the second and third blocks of lectures, two different methodological approaches are presented which may represent an alternative to the ideological trap of Orientalism and its aftermaths. Inter-religious dialogue, since long propped up as a path towards intercultural understanding and acceptance, is touched on, presenting the thought of some of its modern and ancient supporters (i.e. Nicholas de Cusa, Rousseau, Panikkar). The third block of lectures investigates the issue of intercultural exchange and encounter through artistic productions. A number of case-studies across a range of geographic and chronological areas (from the late Antiquiy to the contemporary art) are presented, in order to investigate the role of visual production and artistic exchange as active agents in the formation of cultural identities and boundaries.

The field work (voluntary) consists of projects developed by students divided in teams. The fieldwork aims at creating practical opportunities of intercultural encounter/dialogue in Milan. These projects are planned in collaboration with the representatives of different ethnical /cultural communities in Milan, and developed with a group of students of Visual Arts or Design from the New Academy of Arts (Naba) in Milan.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

The final exam is a written dissertation on two open questions on the listed books as indicated in the paragraph above. 

A field work is available on voluntary base, and is weighted as a 50% of the final note.


  • A text list is delivered at the beginning of the course, differentiating the compulsory part (a selection of books) from the part selected by the students (a selection of articles or monographic contributions).
  • The compulsory section includes E. SAID, Orientalism, New York, 1978
  • There is a differentiation between people that attend the lesson and those who are not attending 
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 29/03/2012 16:29