I am Professor in International Relations at the Pisa-based Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant'Anna (2009 to date), with PhD assignments at the Scuola Normale Superiore (SPS Department, Florence). I am also adjunct professor at the Bologna-based SAIS Europe - The Johns Hopkins University.

I specialise in peace and conflict studies, with a specific focus on armed violence and extra-legal governance (transnational organised crime).

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). Between 2001 and 2005 I lectured at the Department of Politics, Institution and History at the University of Bologna. During this period I developed experience as a trainer for civilian personnel in international peace missions. Between 2005 and 2008 I held a tenured position as Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam. Between 2013 and 2015 I was senior research fellow (resident) at the Oslo-based Norwegian Institute for International Affairs (NUPI), then until 2021 I remained affiliated as adjunct research professor.


I work on conflict and international security. My main research focus is on extralegal governance and political violence. I work on organised crime, (counter)narcotics, arms and insurgent/terror groups along Europe's borderlands and borderlands' peripheries (e.g., the Sahelo-Saharan region).

I edit the book series Afromediterranea (Studi e Ricerche) with Carocci editore, Rome.

Here are links to my webpages at NUPI in Oslo, at the Dirpolis Institute of the SantAnna School of Advanced Studies.

To download my papers and publications, please see my page at academia.edu

Recent projects (2017-to date):

2020-22. Horizon 2020, PREVEX - Preventing Violent Extremism in the Balkans and the MENA Region (WP coordinator) 2020. WEPPS - Enhancing Women’s Participation in Peace and Security’ (Italian MFA DPS 2019, Principal investigator)

2019-20. Women Peace and Security (WEPPS) in the Mediterranean - MAECI. Principal investigator, in partnership with Agenzia Peacebuilding.

2018-21. FRAGVENT- Fragile states and violent entrepreneurs: conflict, climate, refugee (Norwegian Research Council) co- proponent and researcher

2018-19. H2020, MSCA-IF-2016 (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action): “Non-Western Military Interventions and the Character of Warfare in the European Periphery” (referent for host institution, SSSA)

2017. African Futures (scientific co-coordinator, with Valerie Arnaud) EU Institute for Security Studies)

2017-18. Pan-African Index of Transnational Organised Crime - Measuring the Scope and Scale of Organised Crime – (Global Initiative against Organised Crime (ENACT)

2016–18. Horizon 2020 EUNPACK: Good intentions, mixed results – A conflict sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to conflict and crisis mechanism (WP coordinator: crisis management in EU neighbourhood - Libya and Ukraine).

2017. SAFTE. Studying the acquisition of illicit arms by terrorists in Europe (DG Home): co-proponent and researcher (best ‘international Counter Terror Project’ at the annual Counter Terror Awards 2019, London)

Niamey - November 2018



Frontiera Ucraina. Guerra, Geopolitiche e Ordine Internazionale. Bologna: Il Mulino 2023.

Terrore Sovrano. Stato e Jihad nell’Era Post-Liberale (with Marina Calculli), Bologna: Il Mulino, 2017.

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


“Governance, Fragility and Insurgency in the Sahel: A Hybrid Political Order in the Making” | Special issue of The International Spectator : Vol. 55 No. 4, 2021 (with M. Boas).

Governance Beyond the Law: The Immoral, The Illegal, The Criminal (co-editor, with A. Polese, A. Russo) Palgrave Macmillan 2019

Islands of Organised Crime: Spatiality, Mobility and Confinement | Special Issue of European Review of Organised Crime: co-edited with Alessandra Russo, co-author of the Introduction (Issue 1, March 2019).

African Futures. Horizon 2025 (rapporteur, editor and author, with Valerie Arnaud) – EUISS Paris, Luxemburg Publication office of the European Union, 2017.

Rethinking Challenges to State Sovereignty in Mali and Northwest Africa | Special Issue of African Security, with B. Whitehouse (Vol. 8, No. 4, 2015)

Costruire la Pace fra Stato e Territori. I Dilemmi del Peacebuilding. Trento: Erickson, 2014 (Co-editor, with Roberto Belloni and Mauro Cereghini; 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).

peer-reviewed journal articles

"The data that we do (not) have: studying drug trafficking and organised crime in Africa." (with L. Raineri), Trends in Organized Crime, 2023.

"Grasping Local Participation: The Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the Western Balkans and North Africa." (with Clara della Valle) Global Society, 2022, 1-22

“La pace fra utopia e prassi” (with E. Piras), Parole-chiave, No. 6, nuova serie, 2021, pp. 37-50

"Drug Smuggling and the Stability of Fragile States. The Diverging Trajectories of Mali and Niger." (with L. Raineri), Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (2021), pp. 1-18.

"Governance, Fragility and Insurgency in the Sahel: A Hybrid Political Order in the Making." (with M. Boas) The International Spectator, Vol. 55, No. 4 (2020), pp. 1-17.

“(B)ordering hybrid security? EU stabilisation practices in the Sahara-Sahel region,” (with L. Raineri), Ethnopolitics, Vol. 18, No. 5, 2019, pp. 544-55.

"Government policy and the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and African arenas," (with M. Grandi), Contemporary Italian Politics, Vol. 11 No. 3 (2019), pp. 336-354.

“Securitization of Research: Fieldwork under new Restrictions in Darfur and Mali” (with M. Peter) Third World Quarterly, Vol. 38, no. 7, pp. 1531-1550, 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2016.1256766

“State, Secession and Jihad: The Micro-political 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 Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 5, 2014, 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

“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.

"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.

book chapters

“Afghanistan: le lezioni della guerra perduta e le alternative di pace” (with F. Coticchia), in D. Musina and D. Goxho (eds.) Afghanistan Senza Pace 2001-2021, edizioni Sbilanciamoci (e-book)

“Dissecting the EU response to the ‘migration crisis’,” in Roger Mac Ginty, Sandra Pogodda, and Oliver P. Richmond, The EU and crisis response. Manchester: Manchester University Press 2021, pp. 201-226.

“Diseguaglianze pandemiche: il virus e le relazioni internazionali”, in P. Beccegato, W. Nanni (a cura di), Milano, San Paolo Edizioni, 2021, pp. 21-56.

“La crisi libica fra interessi, identità e ideologia,” in S. Colombo (ed.), Italia ed Europa di Fronte alla Crisi Libica, Roma, Edizioni Nuova Cultura (IAI), 2020.

“The Politics of Safe Research in Ungoverned Spaces’ (with A. Russo) in Berit Bliesemann de Guevara and Morten Boas (eds.) Doing Fieldwork in Areas of International Intervention. A Guide to Research in Violent and Closed Contexts,Bristol University Press, 2020

“L’azione di governo e la questione migratoria sul fronte mediterraneo e africano,” (with M. Grandi) in (E. Bressanelli, D. Natali) Politica in Italia 2018, Bologna: Istituto Cattaneo-il Mulino.

“The shadow of violence and intervention: war as an extralegal deal,” in Simona Leila Talani, Roberto Roccu (eds.), The Dark Side of Globalisation, Palgrave, 2019

“Before the field” (with. K. Koehler, S. Lefebvre, D. Masterson), in Jannis Grimm et al. (eds.) Safer Field Research in the Social Sciences. A Guide to Human and Digital Security in Hostile Environments, London, SAGE, 2020.

“North Africa: organised crime, the Sahel-Sahara region and state (un)making,” (with G. Zanoletti), in Felia Allum and Stan Gilmous (eds.), Handbook on organised crime and politics, Edward Edgar Publishing, 2019, pp. 287-308.

“Caring, protecting and disciplining: the surveillance of social science researchers in the dangerhood” (with A. Russo) in Halvard Leira, Nina Graeger (eds.), The duty of care: protecting citizens abroad, London, Routledge (Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics), pp. 34-52.

“Between organised crime and terrorism: illicit firearms actors and market dynamics in Italy” (with F. Zampagni). In N. Duquet (ed.), Triggering Terror: Illicit Gun Markets and Firearms Acquisition of Terrorist Networks in Europe, Brussels: Flemish Peace Institute, 2018.

“Illicit firearms circulation and the politics of upheaval in North Africa” (with F. Zampagni). In N. Duquet (ed.), Triggering Terror: Illicit Gun Markets and Firearms Acquisition of Terrorist Networks in Europe, Brussels: Flemish Peace Institute, 2018

“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, economici,politici e giuridici. Parma, MUP 2011.

“Guerre: conflitti globali e conflitti localientry” 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, Nell'Occhio 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 nobodys to everybodys 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 dellEuropa Centro-orientale. Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004.

“La polveriera che non esplose: la Repubblica Autonoma di Crimea,” 1991-2000 in Stabilite Instabilità dall'Adriatico al Caucaso, Centro Militare di Studi Strategici Longo Editore, 2002.

“Intervento, autoderminazione e criminalità transnazionale nella regione balcanica,” in S. Bianchini, M. Dass, Guida ai Paesi dellEuropa 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 dellEuropa 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.

open-access research

Policy brief summarizing lessons learnt on the EU’s measures to prevent violent extremism in the region (with L. Raineri), PREVEX Policy Brief D6.7 – 2022. Available at: https://www.prevex-balkan-mena.eu/

Policy brief summarizing the EU and other stakeholders’ prevention strategy towards violent extremism in the Maghreb and the Sahel, Prevex Policy brief D6.1 (with L. Raineri, A. Wahab Cissé, J. Kalpakian, D. Lounnas), PREVEX Policy Brief D7 https://www.prevex-balkan-mena.eu/

The implementation of EU Crisis Response in Libya: Bridging theory and practice (with C. Loschi and L. Raineri), EUNPACK Research report 6.02 – 2018. Available at: wwww.eunpack.eu

Jihadism in Mali and the Sahel: Evolving dynamics and patterns – EU Institute for Security Studies Brief 21, 2017 (with L. Raineri)

Organized crime and fragile states: African variations, EU Institute for Security Studies Brief 8, 2017 (with L. Raineri)

How the EU is facing crises in its neighbourhood: Evidence from Libya and Ukraine, (with K. Ivashchenko-Stadnik; R. Petrov; L. Raineri; P. Rieker; A. Russo. Available at: www.eunpack.eu

“Organised crime,” in M. Peter (ed.) UN Peace Operations: Aligning Principles and Practice. A Compendium of Research. NUPI Report no. 2, 2015

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

“We saw it coming: challenges for EU counter-terrorism” (with E. Stambol), NUPI brief 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

analysis and commentary

L’Éthiopie en 2020. Le Grand Continent, Dec. 2020.

Crisis to watch 2020: the Sahel (with L. Raineri). ISPI Commentary, Dec. 2020.

La pericolosa mutazione del virus populista - Il Manifesto-Sbilanciamoci, Maggio 2020

Tunisia-Libia, un confine che scotta, Formiche 2020

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 brief2015.

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.
Ventanni 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 dellUnione 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 Chavez 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-Piero Royo), MeridianoCERI, No. 27, Junio 1999.
De Kosovo a Kosova, y vuelta a empezar, in MeridianoCERI, No. 23, Octubre 1998.
L'intreccio perverso. Costruzione di identitnazionali e nazionalismi xenofobi nellEuropa 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, post-colonial studies, critical geopolitics and transnational organised crime.

I am a board member of the PhD Transnational Governance jointly organised in Florence (Dept of Social and Political Sciences) by the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna and the Scuola Normale Superiore.

I coordinate the MSc in International Security Studies (MISS) jointly organised by the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna and the University of Trento.

At SAIS Europe (Bologna) I teach a graduate course on the (geo)politics of transnational organised crime.


I supervise graduate students, PhD candidates and postdoc researchers in various IR subfields, whose activities are coordinated in the research group Emerging Research in International Relations (ERIS).


I engage in analysis and commentary in the press, on the Italian public RAI channels and occasionally on national and international media.

Media contact areas:

– armed conflict, political violence in MENA region (esp. Libya, Syria, African conflicts and insugencies)

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

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