Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities

Conference Comics and the Invisible: Intertwining Academic and Artistic perspectives

Underwater Lines – Live Painting

Non-Belief and Non-Believers: evolution and challenges of contemporary irreligiousness

Masterclass in Venice with Alex Majoli

Study Day | Sufism and Gender: Female Religious Authorities in Contemporary Societies

Workshop | Arabic-Islamic Calligraphy

Symposium. Religious dimensions of nationalism: Interdisciplinary perspectives


Workshop Japanese Calligraphy

Symposium Philo of Alexandria: at the Crossroads of Civilisations

International Conference Religious Dimensions of Conspiracy Theories: Connecting Old and New Trends

Photography Workshop Photographing the Sacred

Public Lecture: Photographing the Sacred

Contesting in the Name of Religion in Secularised Societies: Between Doctrine and Militancy

Embodying Scientific Medicine and Religious Healing, A Comparative Perspective on Exorcism and Non-Voluntary Spirit Possession


Workshop Islamic Calligraphy: Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt

Seminar Islamic Ethics and Morality between Religion and Law

International Conference: Transnational Sufism in Contemporary Societies: Reconfiguring Practices, Narratives and Boundaries

In Cambodia. Photographs from the Tiziano Terzani Archive

In keeping with its own history and tradition, the Giorgio Cini Foundation has created a Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities. The new Centre has evolved naturally from the previous Venice and the East Institute, which was founded in 1958 with the principal aim of promoting the study of the civilisations of India and the Far East.


The Centre focuses on the study of different cultures, religions and spiritualities from a comparative perspective. This comparison is intended as an instrument for promoting dialogue between civilisations, in order to discuss ideas, but also political, theoretical and aesthetic experiences.

Among the projects we intend to develop are:

– Mysticism, esotericism, spirituality and popular religion are elusive concepts, which, as Michel De Certeau states, “haunt” the epistemology of the contemporary social sciences. We welcome interdisciplinary works on these concepts, connecting philosophical reflections, social sciences and theologies. Scholars are invited to work in the library of the Centre, which hosts a rich collection on Orientalism, colonial literature, exotericism, and comparative religions.

– The boundaries between science and religion are often blurred. Some historians, Orientalists and psychoanalysts of the 20th century, such as Mircea Eliade, Henry Corbin, and Carl Gustav Jung, have been called “religionist”; they have, in fact, mixed conceptions and experiences of the sacred together with historical and scientific descriptions. A current within the new religious movements and the New Age culture, called “Quantum Mysticism”, has been adopting the narratives of the natural sciences. Completely different is the “ontological turn” described by contemporary anthropology, which opens up to the possibility of other realities and dimensions. We invite scholars to explore the boundaries between science, culture and religion.

– The relationship with the Other. Almost every religion faces otherness, and problematises the border between “us” and “them”. The border could be cultural, ethnic, linguistic, or linked to sexual orientation and gender identity. We ask scholars to discuss religious boundaries. How is the Other perceived? Who is the infidel? How do these borders move according to the political and social context?

– Between New and Old Age. The social sciences have tried to describe changes in religious practices in contemporary societies by employing new categories, such as “religious modernity”, “bricolage”, “post-secular”, and “New Age”. The risk is to fall into presentism, ascribing all the characteristics of religious phenomena to the so-called modern turn. We therefore propose to investigate the relationships between old and new trends within religious phenomena.

– Phenomenology of the religious body: perceptions, emotions, sensations and construction of the body. We invite scholars to describe and understand the intertwining of body, perception, understanding and culture.

– Projects dedicated to the study and valorisation of the Tiziano Terzani Archive, donated by the family to the Giorgio Cini Foundation, containing personal documents and photographs.



The Library

The Library of the Centre for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities has several collections specialised in Eastern culture with an emphasis on the great spiritual traditions both in the East and the West. Among these stand out those of Alain Daniélou, Tiziano Terzani, and Giovanni Vacca. Furthermore, thanks to the Daniélou Bequest, the Centre preserveses an enormous collection of manuscript copies of sacred musicological treatises from Indian traditions and books useful for the study of traditional philosophy. The library is equally specialised in journals dedicated to the comparative study of cultures, which the Cini Foundation is committed to updating every year. The Beijing Imperial Library microfilm archive is a further very valuable resource in the collections.