The Department of Asian and North African Studies (DSAAM) draws upon a long tradition of Oriental studies that came under the departments of East Asian and Eurasian studies until 2010.
The Department's programmes and courses (which are detailed in this presentation) offers students all-round training allowing them to learn and specialise in oriental languages examined in their specific cultural, religious, social and historical contexts. Unrivalled for the vast range and specificity of its courses, DSAAM attracts large numbers of students from all over Italy.
The interests and scientific competences of the DSAAM faculty cover a vast geographical area extending from Africa to Japan, and involve specific research fields, often covering several subject areas, which can be grouped in four main sectors:
- Linguistic, philological and literary studies: continuing the outstanding tradition of Asian and North African language studies in Venice, this sector offers an extensive range of languages: from Arabic to Chinese, Persian to Hindi, Turkish to Tibetan, Hebrew to Japanese, Armenian to Korean, Urdu to Yiddish and Sanskrit to Georgian. Each cultural alphabet is considered in the context of an open-ended chronology extending from ancient times to the present. Literary, philological and historic-linguistic studies are accompanied and integrated by studies in cinema, television, Internet and other forms of communication.
- Religions and philosophies, cultural anthropology: The faculty's research activities in this sector range from philological studies – critical editions and translations of philosophical and religious texts published in the various classical and modern languages of the Asian continent – to research into the historical interaction between the worlds of philosophy and religion. Different religious traditions are studied using a multidisciplinary methodological approach intended to embrace all dimensions of religion, including mythical, textual, ritual, aesthetic, socio-anthropological and political aspects. The Department's anthropological research mainly concerns analysis of phenomena of delocalisation and alienation in relationships between community, local area and the environment, and the new cultural syntheses emerging in post- and neo-colonial contexts.
- Archaeology and conservation of cultural heritage, figurative and performance arts: The Department promotes studies in art history, archaeology and conservation and promotion of archaeological sites in a number of specific areas ranging from the Balkans to the Far East; these courses dedicated to specific themes may involve archaeological digs or projects for the conservation and promotion of the sites concerned. The Department has also promoted a series of exhibitions with international appeal. This sector also includes theatre, cinema, photography and visual culture studies in general.
- History, institutions, economy, politics and international relations: The methodological approach adopted in this sector integrates linguistic and cultural knowledge with disciplinary and technical know-how while research concerns a variety of different cultural areas and time periods. Key study areas include relations between Islamic countries and Europe, circulation of ideas and expressions relative to religion between the Iranian, Jewish, Islamic and Christian worlds, and the political, institutional and social transformations that took place in China and Japan in the twentieth century. Research into legislative and institutional matters mainly focuses on the study of the legal systems of the economic and commercial institutions of Asian and Islamic countries, while also touching upon issues linked to international commercial law.