US. B-2 stealth bombers destroy multiple ISIS training camps in the #Libya-n desert #Fezzan…

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I am Associate Professor of International Relations at the Pisa-based Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (2009 to date). I am also adjunct research professor at the Oslo-based NUPI (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs), where I joined the Consortium for Research on Terrorism and International Crime in 2013.  I specialize in International Relations theories and IR-related fields such as conflict studies, with a specific focus on European security, state-building, extra-legal governance and transnational organized crime. My main areas of expertise are European Union peripheries and neighborhood (Balkans, North Africa & the Sahel, Caucasus, Black Sea, Middle East).

Between 2009 and 2012 I was Adjunct Professor of International Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) – The Johns Hopkins University, Bologna. Until 2008 I held a tenured position of Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam. Between 2001 and 2005 I lectured at the Department of Politics, Institution and History of the University of Bologna.

I completed my laurea in political science in 1994 (University of Bologna). After a post-graduate diploma (SAIS-BC 1996) and a Master in Conflict Analysis (NPSIA, Carleton U. – Ottawa 1997), I received a Ph.D. from the European University Institute (EUI Florence, 2003) with a dissertation on security-building measures in protracted ethnonational conflicts. I have extensive experience as a trainer for civilian personnel in international peace missions.


I work on international security, broadly defined. My main research focus is on the nexus between informal/criminal practices and formal/official political processes. I work on European security, transnational organized crime, (counter)narcotics, arms and armed groups along Europe’s peripheries, borderlands and borderland’s peripheries. I am interested in extra-legal governance, political extremism/violence, post conflict development, peace-building and state-building.

At NUPI I work with the Research Group on Security and Defense, with the Consortium for Research on International Crime and Terrorism. I’m also affiliated with the Oslo-based Center for Research of Extremism (C-REX) and with the Global Initiative for the Fight against Transnational Crime. 

Other specific research projects I’m contributing to:

H2020 – Europe as a Global Actor: Societal Challenges (INT5): “Good intentions, mixed results – A conflict sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to conflict and crises mechanism (WP coordinator)

SAFTE – Studying the acquisition of illicit firearms by terrorists in Europe (DG Home)

“The Sahel – the geopolitics of conflict, collusion and collaboration” (MoD Norway – research line on organized crime)

“DOC:PRO The Duty of Care: Protecting Citizens Abroad” – SAMRISK II, Norway.

“The Italian Foreign Policy facing new challenges in the international system: Actors, institutions and policies” PRIN project (unit coordinator)

Here are links to my webpages at NUPI in Oslo, and at the Dirpolis Institute of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa. For papers and publications, see  my page



Orson Welles: “I’m Hank Quinlan”
– Marlene Dietrich: “I didn’t recognize you. You should lay off those candy bars”
(Touch of Evil, 1958)




Notte Balcanica. Guerre, Crimine, Stati Falliti alle Soglie d’Europa. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2008.

Costruire la pace fra Stato e Territori. I Dilemmi del Peacebuilding. Trento: Erickson, 2014 (Co-editor, co-author of ‘Introduction’).

Mercati di Guerra. Rapporto di Ricerca su Finanza, Povertà, Ambiente e Conflitti Dimenticati. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012. (Co-editor, author of ch. 1. Verso un’era post-liberale?)

Guerre alla Finestra. Rapporto di Ricerca su Conflitti Dimenticati, Guerre Infinite e Terrorismo Internazionale. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2005. (Co-editor, author of ch. 1: Le mappe globali della Violenza Organizzata, pp. 27-57)

La Pace Intrattabile. Kosovo 1999-2000: Una Radiografia del Dopo-Bombe, Asterios, Trieste, 2000 (Editor, author of “Introduction,” “Conclusions.” Translated as Kosovo: The Intractable Peace by EUI-Robert Schuman Center, on-line 2001-2004) 


Securitization of research. Fieldwork under new restrictions in Darfur and Mali (with M. Peter), Third World Quarterly, forthcoming

Guest Editor, African Security | Special Issue: Rethinking Challenges to State Sovereignty in Mali and Northwest Africa

“State, Secession and Jihad: The Micro-polical Economy of Conflict in North Mali (with L. Raineri), African Security, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2015, pp. 249-271.

“Introduction: Rethinking Challenges to State Sovereignty in Mali and Northwest Africa,” with B. Whitehouse, African Security, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2015, pp. 213-226.

“Captured or Capturing? Narcotics and Political Instability along the ‘African Route’ to Europe,” European Review of Organized Crime, vol. 1, no. 2, 2014, pp. 5-34.

“A Deal Among Friends: Corruption in Post-Conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo,” (with R. Belloni), Third World Quartely, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 855-871. DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2014.921434

“US homeland, EU archipelago? Convergence and Divergence on Transnational Organized Crime” (with A. Russo). European Security, 2014 – DOI 10.1080/09662839.2014.933207

“Exporting Insecurity: Libyan Arms and Regional Instability,” International Spectator, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2014, pp. 54-68

” ‘Tesco for Terrorists’ Reconsidered: Arms and Conflict Dynamics in Libya and in the Sahara-Sahel Region,” (with S. Tholens) European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 2014 – vol. 20, no. 3 (2014), pp. 343-360. DOI 10.1007/s10610-014-9233-y

“The Informal and the Criminal: State-Building as an Extralegal Field”, Südosteuropa, vol. 60, no. 4 (2012), pp. 576-590

“High Stakes, Low Strategies: the European Union and the Fight against Transnational Organised Crime in State-building Missions,” (with F. Coticchia), Interdisciplinary Political Studies,  vol. 2, no. 1, 2012, pp. 8-22.

“Hybrid Economies and Statebuilding: on the Resilience of the Extralegal,” (with B. Kamphuis) Global Governance, vol. 18, no. 1, 2012, pp. 57-72.

“Another Nakba: Weapons Availability and the Transformation of the Palestinian National Struggle, 1987-2007” (with S. Tholens) International Studies Perspectives, vol. 11, no. 2, 2010, pp. 112-130.

“Pan-Albanian vs Trans-Albanian Spaces: The Urban Dimension of the Albanian Question,” Southeastern Europe, vol. 33, No. 1, 2009, pp. 77-99.

“L’Oeuvre au Noir: The Shadow Economy of Kosovo’s Independence,” International Peacekeeping, vol. 15, no. 2, 2008, pp. 155-170

“Sustainable Peace Between Frozen Conflicts and Messy Aftermaths: Reality and Chimeras,” Human Security Perspectives, no. 2, 2008, pp. 45-65.

“The Decade Horribilis. Organized Violence and Organized Crime along the Balkan Peripheries: 1991-2001,”Mediterranean Politics, vol. 12, no. 2, 2007, pp. 185-209.           

“The Sack of Mostar, 1992-1994. The Politico-Military Connection,” (with N. Bjelakovic), European Security, vol. 8, 1999, pp. 73-102.


“Foreign Fighters as a Challenge for International Relations Theory,” in Andrea de Guttry, Francesca Capone and Chrisopher Paulussen (eds.), Foreign Fighters under International Law and Beyond, ASSER/Springer Verlag 2015, pp. 49-62.

“The Libyan arsenal and trafficking dynamics” (with M. Kartas and R. Tabib), in Small Arms Survey Yearbook 2015, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2015.  

“Lo spazio prossimo della guerra”, in Caritas Italiana, Cibo di Guerra: Quinto rapporto sui conflitti dimenticati, Bologna, Il Mulino, 19-46, 2015.

“Nationalism and Civil Society Organizations in Post-Independence Kosovo” (with E. Selenica), in Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic, James Ker-Lindsay and Denisa Kostovicova (eds.) Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans. London, Palgrave Macmillan 2013, pp. 117-134.

“The Phantom Manace: Transnational Organized Crime” (with F. Coticchia), in Paul Stubbs and Christophe Solioz (eds.), Towards Open Regionalism in the South East Europe. Baden Baden, Nomos 2012, pp. 147-174.

“Multi-stakeholder Partnerships in DDR and SALW-Control:?Local Ownership, Norms and Human Security” (with S. Tholens), in Michael Brzoska, Hans-Georg Ehrhart, Jens Narten: Multistakeholder Security Partnerships. A Critical Assessment with case studies from Afghanistan, the DR of Congo and Kosovo. Baden Baden, Nomos 2011.

“Il Kosovo nel quadro politico internazionale” – in Laura Pineschi (ed.), La questione del Kosovo nella sua dimensione internazionale. Profili storici, economicipolitici e giuridici. Parma, MUP 2011.

“Guerre: conflitti globali e conflitti locali” – entry for Dizionario Storico. Roma, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Treccani, 2010.

“The Private Security Industry in the Post-War Balkans: a Blank in Security Sector Reform Strategies,” (with S. Tholens), in Giampiero Giacomello and Craig R. Nation (eds.), Security in the West: Evolution of a Concept. Milan, Vita e Pensiero (and Cornell Univ. Press) 2009, pp. 134-139.

“Guerre, conflitti ambientali e crisi umanitarie complesse” (with L. Fontana). In Caritas Italiana, NellOcchio del Ciclone. Rapporto di ricerca su ambiente e povertà, emergenze e conflitti dimenticati. Bologna, il Mulino 2009.

“Between ethnic collision and mafia collusion: the Balkan Route to state making.” In Dietrich Jung, Shadow Globalization, Ethnic Conflicts and New Wars. A Political Economy of Intra-state Wars. London, Routledge 2003.

“Nagorno Karabakh: from nobody’s to everybody’s intervention,” in S. Bianchini and S. Woodward, From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: Viable Dynamics of Stabilization. Rome, CEMISS – Centro Militare Studi Strategici, 2003.

“Tempi e spazi violenti. Alcune note preliminari circa lo studio della  ‘violenza etnica’ lungo le periferie del sud-est europeo,” in Gustavo Gozzi  and Fabio Martelli, Guerre e minoranze. Diritti delle minoranze, conflitti interetnici e giustizia internazionale nella transizione alla democrazia dell’Europa Centro-orientale. Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004.

“La polveriera che non esplose: la Repubblica Autonoma di Crimea, 1991-2000” in Stabilità e Instabilità dallAdriatico al Caucaso, Centro Militare di Studi Strategici – Longo Editore, 2002.

“Intervento, autoderminazione e criminalità transnazionale nella regione balcanica.”, in S. Bianchini, M. Dassù,Guida ai Paesi dell’Europa Centrale, Orientale e Balcanica. Bologna, Il Mulino 2002.

Chapters 1, 2, 4. In Stefano Bianchini, Repubblica di Macedonia. Roma, Centro Militare di Studi Strategici 2001.

“La Repubblica Autonoma di Crimea fra stato ucraino, nazione tatara e identità russa,” in Silvia Matteucci, ed., Il Nazionalismo. Culture Politiche, Mediazione e Conflitto. Ravenna, Longo Editore 2000.

“Repubblica di Macedonia – FYROM, 1998.” In S. Bianchini, M. Dassù, Guida ai Paesi dell’Europa Centrale, Orientale e Balcanica, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999.

“Repubblica di Macedonia – FYROM – 1997?, in S. Bianchini, M. Dassù, Guida ai Paesi dell’Europa Centrale, Orientale e Balcanica. Milano, Guerini ed ass., 1998.

“Ruolo e compiti delle NGOs” and “lI fattore religioso in Bosnia.” In Silvia Matteucci and Senada Bhato, Bosnia-Erzegovina. Roma, Centro Militare di Studi Strategici, 1999.

“Macedonia: Identity and Statehood in a Fluid Regional Order,” in M. Opalski, Managing Diversity in Plural Societies: Ethnopolitical Relations in Post-communist Eastern Europe. Ottawa, Centre for Foreign Policy Development, 1998.


Azawad and the rights of passage: the role of illicit trade in the logic of armed group formation in northern Mali. Clingendael/NOREF Research Report, January 2015

Libya and Trafficking Dynamics in North Africa and the Trans-Saharan Space (with M. Kartas and R. Tabib) – SANA working paper forthcoming 2015

The Sahel as Ungoverned Space?
Smuggling and Trafficking in a Hybrid Security Order, (with Luca Raineri and Greg Shuck). Interim Report for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. College Park, MD: START, 2014.

Multi-stakeholder Partnerships for Socio-Economic Development in Post-Conflict Reconstruction (editor, author of Chapter 1). Available at:


“Fra metaterrorismo e sicurezza algoritmica,” Questione Giustizia, special issue 2016.

“L’ISIS: molta guerra poco stato,” il Mulino, no. 2, April 2016.
“We saw it coming: challenges for EU counter-terrorism” (with E. Stambol), NUPI brief 2015.

“Il deserto di Pandora”, Limes, no. 3, 2015

“Il pericoloso ritorno della geopolitica,” Pagina 99, 14 March 2014
“Golpe a Bamako,” Limes, no. 6, November 2012.
“Vent’anni dopo, nella ex Jugoslavia,” il Mulino, no. 1, January 2012.
“Bilanci in Difesa. In Italia, la correzione di rotta,” Formiche, vol. 7, no. 67, 2012.
“I Balcani, una via tortuosa per l’Europa,” il Mulino,  no. 4, September 2008.
“Il Kosovo sommerso,” LiMes, no. 2, 2008.
“Il fattore illecito e le indipendenze Balcaniche,” Aspenia, no. 40, March 2008.
“Lo Status del Kosovo e quello dell’Unione Europea, il Mulino, no. 6, December 2007
“Along the Borders of the Albanian Question: Nationalism and City-Networks,” Conflict in Focus (Jordan) no. 14, 2006.
“Il neobolivarismo di Chàvez alla resa dei conti”, LiMes, No. 3, 2003.
“Zagabria si schiera, anzi no,” LiMes, no. 2,  2003.
“La battaglia di Ramallah,” LiMes, No. 2, 2002.
“Il triangolo macedone,” LiMes, No. 2, 2001.
“Geopolitica delle mafie jugoslave,” LiMes Speciale, 2000.
“La Croazia si riscopre balcanica,” LiMes, No. 3, 2000.
“The politics of education, national mobilization and state sovereignty in the Balkans: a forward-looking glance at the past”, EUI Review, Summer 2000.
“Otro daño colateral”? El conflicto de Kosova/o y el futuro de Macedonia (with L. Rodriguez-Piñero Royo), Meridiano CERI, No. 27, Junio 1999.
“De Kosovo a Kosova, y vuelta a empezar”, in Meridiano CERI, No. 23, Octubre 1998.
“L’intreccio perverso. Costruzione di identità nazionali e nazionalismi xenofobi nell’Europa Sud-Orientale”, book review in Ricerche di Storia Politica, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2002.
“Due, Tre, Mille Macedonie,” LiMes, No. 2, 1999.
“Macedonia: Requiem per uno Stato-caserma”, LiMes Speciale, 1999.
“Gloria Russa, Nazione Tatara e Stato Ucraino: La Crimea nello Spazio Post-Sovietico,” Europe & the Balkans occasional paper, Longo, Ravenna, 1998


I teach International Relations theories and IR-related courses that reflect my research interests: war and strategic studies, security studies, critical geopolitics, European security and organized crime. I also teach seminars of introduction to qualitative methods for social and political sciences (graduate and PhD level).

I am deputy coordinator and referent for the IR track of the PhD program PEI (Political Science, European Politics and International Relations), jointly offered by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, the University of Siena, the University of Pisa and the University of Florence.



academic conventions | policy workshops | public talks

“Shadow governing the eternal city,” at 1st General Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Organized Crime, Naples, 10-11 December 2015.

“Non-Conventional Violence and Crime,” SSRC-NOREF workshop, New York, 1 December 2015

“Interactive Brainstorm ‘Informal Economies in Fragile Environments,” 23 November 2015

“L’avanzata di IS: inarrestabile? Il punto dopo il vertice di Parigi della coalizione internazionale” – Milan, ISPI, 2 June 2015.

“State sponsorship and criminal protection: evidence from comparative research” – International conference “Armed violence, organized crime and politics in Latin America”, Centre for Development and Environment (SUM), University of Oslo: 22-23 November 2014

“Mali and the Sahel: Insurgencies, Illicit Economies and State Responses” – with Morten Boas and Bruce Whitehouse – NUPI, Oslo: 31 October 2014

“New armed actors in the Sahel” – International Conference “World War and International Relations 1914-21014? – Autonomous University of Lisbon: 2-3 July 2014.

“The geopolitical impact of organized  crime in the Sahara-Sahel region: what do we know?” – KRIPOS (Kriminalpolizei), Oslo: 13 June 2013.

“African droits de passage: drug smuggling, state un-making and re-making in Mali,” ISSDP Annual Conference, Rome May 21-23, 2014.


“Security models and security identity: the Eu and the fight against organized crime,” – ECPR Joint Sessions. Salamanca: 10-15 April 2014

“Captured or capturing? Narcotics along the African route to Europe” – International seminar “Armed violence, organized crime and politics in Latin America.” UNAM, Mexico – 8 April 2014.

“The fight against organized crime in the Balkans”.  SSRC Policy Workshop “The impact of the drugs trade and international crime: The European experience.” Brussels, 15 November 2013.

“Sovereignty without borders: Geopolitical imaginary in northern Mali”, 55th ISA Annual Convention, March 26-29, Toronto.

“Conflict trends in West Africa,” International workshop, NUPI, Oslo: 31 January 2014

“Post-conflict transition in Mali: the role of the military”, 10th International Security Forum – Geneva, April 22-24, 2013.

“Along Europe´s supply lines: narcotics and stability” (with F. Coticchia) XIX ISA annual conference – San Francisco, April 3-6, 2013

“Hybrid post-conflict orders and extralegal economies” –  talk at Sabanci University, Istanbul – 2 January 2012.

“Hybrid economies and statebuilding: resilience despite intrusiveness” (with B. Kamphuis) – XVII ISA annual conference – Montreal, March 16-19, 2011

“Challenges for statebuilding research beyond the legal and the official,”  London School of Economics and Political Science, London. Research on State-building in the Western Balkans: Comparative Methodologies’. 10 December 2010

“The Phantom Manace: Organized Crime and ESDP Missions” (with F. Coticchia), XVI ISA Annual Conference, New Orleans, February 16-18, 2010

“Parallel societies: nationalism and civil society organizations in post-independence Kosovo,” LSE Workshop “For Better of Worse: Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans” LSE – 7 May 2010.

“The Phantom Manace: Organized Crime and ESDP Missions” (with F. Coticchia) – ISA Annual Conference, New Orleans, February 17-19, 2010

“Fire under the sand: shadow globalization and the ‘second Tuareg rebellion’ in the Western Sahel.” – ABRI-ISA Conference, Rio de Janeiro, July 22-24, 2009





I engage in analysis and commentary of current events on the public news channel RAINEWS24

Media contact areas:

– armed conflict, political violence in MENA region (esp. Libya, Mali, Syria)

– EU internal & external security policies (esp. organised crime, terrorism)

– geopolitics of European borderlands (incl. Balkans, Ukraine)