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Cycles of Political Violence A Comparative Historical Political-Sociology Analysis of Italy and Northern Ireland


This research project examines how political violence unfolds, develops and demises by combining knowledge coming from three major disciplines: history, political science and sociology. Analytically, it explores how the complex interactions between the social, political, and cultural environment and the internal dynamics within social movements affect cycles of political violence. At the empirical level, it systematically examines two distinct cases of political violence: the ‘socio-revolutionary’ of the Red Brigades in Italy from the mid 1960s to the late 1980s and the ‘ethno-nationalist’ of the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland from the mid 1960s to the late 1990s. Importantly, it also expands the source base for the study of political violence by presenting and analysing a series of new interviews with former armed militants. Set within this framework and drawing on theoretical approaches from the literature on social movements and contentious politics, this research project searches for common mechanisms and processes that conditioned the cycles of political violence in Italy and Northern Ireland. The proposed research will help to develop adequate tools not only for explanatory and theoretical purposes, but also in order to formulate alternative strategies of conflict resolution and provide valuable opportunities for policy learning. During the MC fellowship I plan to complete a monograph to be submitted to a university press, a series of 4 articles for academic journals and to build a European research cluster working on political violence and terrorism. Pursuing my project at the EUI, where I can get additional training in my fields of interest, will greatly enhance the quality of my research and career prospects. At the end of the MC fellowship, I will be positioned in a far better place to compete for a tenured position at a leading European research university and thus to contribute to European scholarship.

Call for proposal

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Via Dei Roccettini 9
50014 Fiesole
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 141 337,53
Administrative Contact
Serena Scarselli (Mrs.)