I was born and grew up in L’Aquila, Italy, studied social sciences in Perugia and worked in politics in Rome before moving to New York City to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology at Columbia University. After a few years spent teaching at both Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, I became the US correspondent for several Italian newspapers and magazines on American politics and culture. It was the 1999 NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia that changed the direction of my life again, and introduced me to Kosovo as a UN press officer in the refugee camps. I later returned to school and once I had obtained a Masters in Public Policy from New York University, I embarked on a new career in the international administration of Kosovo.
In 2004 I returned to New York, and to academia.
– Research Interests
I started out as a political sociologist, with a strong interest in democratic participation and especially in a comparison between the American and European political contexts. That was the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation (later published by Franco Angeli), where I explored the religious activism of the Protestant right in the US and the Catholic left in France as a contestation of the secularization paradigm. While I continued to be interested in researching the development of political participation in Italy, for more than a decade my main focus was American culture and political life, on which I wrote widely.
From my first involvement in the Kosovo crisis, I developed two new lines of research that heavily borrow from my experience as a practitioner.
The first is international intervention, with its goals of social and political engineering – what is commonly referred to as nation-building. I published critical opinion pieces on current approaches to intervention in The Guardian and Italian media, as well as academic essays focusing on intervention in the fields of media and transitional justice.
The second line of research is Albanian nationalism, to be more precise, the struggle within Albanian speaking people in Kosovo to define their self-identification as a nation and a state. After publishing several essays, and editing a book on the Albanian oral history of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, I embarked on the more ambitious project of writing a book on this topic.
I am currently involved in the Kosovo Oral History Initiative, cosponsored by The New School for Public Engagement and the Kosova Women’s Network. The initiative gathers life histories of women activists, political figures and ordinary people, with the goal of creating an archive of Kosovo’s recent history.