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Advisory Board


Paolo Branca is Professor of Islamic Studies and Arab Language at the Catholic University of Milan. His research is mainly focused on the relation between Islamic religion and modernity, with particular concentration on Islamic Modernism. He is author of many books including Voci dell’Islam moderno: il pensiero arabo-musulmano fra rinnovamento etradizione (1991), Introduzione all’Islam (1995), Moschee inquiete. Tradizionalisti,innovatori, fondamentalisti nella cultura islamica (2003), and Islamismo (2017).


Alberto Ventura is Full Professor of History of Islamic Countries at the University of Calabria. He is also the scientific director of “Occhialì – Laboratory for Islamic and Mediterranean Studies”. His academic production mainly focuses on Sufism, the metaphysical aspect of Islam, a topic to which he has devoted many studies including Il crocifisso dell’Islam (2000), Sapienza sufi (2016), and L’esoterismo islamico (2017).


Dario Tomasello is Associate Professor at the University of Messina where he is the President of DAMS and directs the International Center for Performing Arts. He directed a Master in Euro-Mediterranean Theatre at the University of Messina (2007-2009). His current interests concern the field of Performance Studies, regarding ritual in the contemporary age. He is the editor of the open access review “Mantichora. Italian Journal of Performance Studies”. He has recently published Luci sull’Islam. 66 voci per un lessico (Jouvence, 2018). His Italian translation and curatorship of Richard Schechner’s Performance Studies. An Introduction is about to be published by CUE Press.


Gianfranco Bria works in “Occhialì – Laboratory for Islamic and Mediterranean Studies” at UniCal (Italy) and is associated to Cetobac (EHESS – CNRS).  He is one of the scientific members of the research project on “Muhammad in the mirror of his community in early and modern Islam”, at ANR-DFG. He graduated in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Calabria, Italy, with a dissertation on the Islamic conversion of African Americans in interwar period. He was awarded his Ph.D. by the Centre d’Études Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques at the Ecole Des Hautes Etudes En Sciences Sociales, in Paris. His dissertation explored the process of Islamic and Sufi revival in post-socialist Albania after the fall of the communist regime led by Henver Hoxha. Currently, his researches focus on: the transformation of contemporary Islam and Sufism related to secularization, national building and state politics; the evolution of Islamic knowledge, written and oral; the legitimation of religious charisma and authority; the semantics and discursive power of rituals and practices that concern lived-Islam; the formation of transnational Islam: Sufi and Islamic networks; relation from local communities to global networks.


Ibrahim Al-Marashi is Associate Professor of Middle East history at California State University San Marcos. He obtained his doctorate in Modern History at University of Oxford, completing a thesis on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. His research focuses on 20th century Iraqi history, particularly regime resilience, civil-military relations, and state-sponsored violence during the Ba’athist-era from 1968 to 2003. He has researched the formation of the post-Baathist Iraqi state and the evolution of ISIS since its earliest incarnations during the Iraqi insurgency in 2003. He is co-author of Iraq’s Armed Forces: An Analytical History (Routledge, 2008), and The Modern History of Iraq, with Phebe Marr (Routledge, 2017), and A Concise History of the Middle East (Routledge, 2018).


Giacomo Samek Lodovici is Professor of History of Moral Doctrines and Philosophy of History at the Catholic University of Milan. His field of research concerns ethics, philosophical anthropology and political ethics, in a neo-classical teleological perspective, inspired especially by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, and at the same time open to the dialogue with utilitarianism and deontologism. He is author of several essays and of the following monographs: La felicità del bene. Una rilettura di Tommaso d’Aquino (2002); L’utilità del bene. Jeremy Bentham, l’utilitarismo e il consequenzialismo (2004); Il ritorno delle virtù. Temi salienti della Virtue Ethics (2009); L’emozione del bene. Alcune idee sulla virtù (2010), La socialità del bene. Riflessioni di etica fondamentale e politica su bene comune, diritti umani e virtù civili, ETS (2017).


Alessia Melcangi is Assistant Professor of Contemporary History of North Africa and Middle East and Globalization and International Relation at Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Social Sciences and Economics (DiSSE). She collaborates with the Centre of Research on the Southern System and the Wider Mediterranean (CRiSSMA – Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan) and she is member of the scientific committee of ReaCT – Osservatorio sul Radicalismo e il Contrasto al Terrorismo and of CIPMO – Centro Italiano per la Pace in Medio Oriente. Her researches are mainly focused on the Contemporary history of North Africa; geopolitics and international relations in the Euro-Mediterranean area; ethno-religious minorities (in particular the Copts and the Berbers); identity dynamics and dynamics of polarization in the contemporary Middle East; political and social issues in contemporary Egypt and Libya. Regarding these issues she has published several monographs, peer review articles in Italian or international Journals, papers in edited works and policy papers. Her last monographs are: Melcangi A., Statualità e minoranze: meccanismi di resistenza e integrazione in Medio Oriente. Il caso dei cristiani copti in Egitto (Ledizioni, Milano 2018);Melcangi A., I copti nell’Egitto di Nasser. Tra politica e religione (1952-1970) (Carocci, Roma 2017). She also has co-edited the volume North African Societies After the Arab Spring: Between Democracy and Islamic Awakening (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne 2016).


Alberto Negri is journalist and Senior Advisor at ISPI (Italian Institute for International Political Studies). He has been war correspondent for “Il Sole 24 Ore” for the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and the Balkans from 1987 to 2017. As a special correspondent, he covered most of the main political and war events of the last 30 years, from the Iran-Iraq war to Afghanistan (1994-2001-2015), from Balkans wars in Sarajevo, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, to Baghdad 2003, from Algeria 1991 to Syria 2011-2016, from Tunisia 2011 to Cairo and Tripoli 2015, Turkey for 25 years. In Africa he covered South Africa, Mozambique, Eritrea, Etiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco. In 2007 he won a national prize as war reporter, in 2009 won the international journalist prize “Maria Grazia Cutuli”, in 2015 the prize “Colombe per la pace”. He is author of essays and books. His last book Il musulmano errante. Storia degli alauiti e dei misteri del Medio Oriente was awarded with the Capalbio Prize.


Samuel Doveri Vesterbye is Managing Director of European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) with a specialty in Turkey and the Middle East. He oversees ENC research projects and events, including Academic Council Members and regional research coordination. He has worked with EU projects related to foreign affairs and research on Turkey since 2012 through partnerships and cooperation with the European Parliament, business associations, the European External Action Service and various international think tanks. Prior to that he was a journalist in Turkey and Belgium covering Foreign Affairs, Energy and the Middle East. He graduated in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Security Studies with a focus on inter-regional trade and security from the University of St Andrews. He is fluent in English, Italian, Danish, French and Spanish.


Andreas Marazis is Project Manager and Researcher at European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) specializing in the Eastern Partnership countries and in Central Asia. His research is concerned with the post-Soviet space, particularly socio-political developments in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Andreas Marazis is also affiliated researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and associate researcher for EUCAM. Before joining ENC, Andreas worked as a Junior Researcher and EUCAM Programme Officer for FRIDE, and as Project Manager for Eurasian Dialogue. Andreas holds a MLitt in Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland, UK) and an MA in Black Sea Cultural Studies from the International Hellenic University (Thessaloniki, Greece). He is fluent in English and Greek.


Guerino Nuccio Bovalino (PhD in Communication and New Technologies at IULM University of Milan and in Human and Social Sciences at La Sorbonne Paris – Université Paris Descartes ) is Post-Doc at University for Foreigners Dante Alighieri in Reggio Calabria. He is Director of the Master in Information Communication Technology where he teaches for the course in Digital Society Culture and Imaginary. Moreover, he is Research Analyst of MEDAlics (a research centre for Mediterranean Relations), Researcher at “Centre sur l’Actuel et le Quotidien” in Paris, and Associate at the ATOPOS Research Centre of Universidade Sao Paulo. He is also expert in European Project Planning and Consultant for companies in the field of digital communication strategies. He has recently published the book “Imagocrazia. Miti, immaginari e politiche del tempo presente” (Meltemi, Milan, 2018).


Valeria Giannotta is an Italian scholar expert on Turkish politics and International Relations. She is currently serving as Assistant Professor at Türk Hava Kurumu Üniversitesi in Ankara. She studied in Milano at Catholic University where she obtained her Ph.D. Since 2009 she has been active in Turkey where she has served as academic in Istanbul, Gaziantep and Ankara. She has authored and presented several articles during national and international conferences and as expert of Turkey she contributes to think tanks and she engages in high-level strategic meetings. For her analytical objectivity and effort in support to the Italian diplomacy in Turkey, in 2017 she was awarded as Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia by the Presidency of the Republic of Italy. Her last book Erdoğan e il suo partito. AKP tra conservatorismo e riformismo (Castelvecchi, 2018) has been listed among the best current politics essays of the year 2018 and got a special prize in the Italian award Cerruglio 2019.


John Nawas is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the KU Leuven, Belgium, and Director of the School of Abbasid Studies (SAS). He has written on the religio-political and social history of classical Islam with focus on the caliphate and the ‘ulama. He has been Assistant Editor of the Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, and is now one of the five Executive Editors of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Third Edition. His most recent book is Al-Ma’mun, the Inquisition, and the Quest for Caliphal Authority (2015).


Spartaco Pupo (born in 1974), Associate Professor of History of Political Thought at the University of Calabria, ltaly, is an expert in western modern and contemporay political thought. His main research interests are focused on the history of Anglo-American conservatism and their most influential exponents, including Michael Oakeshott, Russell Kirk, Roger Scruton, and Robert Nisbet. For some years he has been conducting a thorough analysis of David Hume’s political thought, to which has dedicated several essays and papers in international conferences, with the purpose of rediscover the figure of Hume as a modern political theorist, statesman, and analyst of war and international relations. He has edited and introduced the ltalian complete edition of Hume’s political writings (“Libertà e moderazione”, 2016), the first ltalian edition of the Humean writings on the war (“Scritti sulla guerra”, 2017), the dispute Hume-Rousseau (“Contro Rousseau”, 2017) and of the Humean youthful writings (“Civiltà e barbarie”, 2018). He has edited and introdused the first English edition of the Humean writings on war and international affairs (“A Petty Statesman”, 2019). Spartaco Pupo is member of the Italian Association of Historians of Political Thought, of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, and of the Hume Society.


Chiara Diana is a Postdoc Research Fellow at Recherche et Études en Politique Internationale (REPI) and Observatoire des Mondes Arabes et Musulmans (OMAM), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and Research Associate at IREMAM-CNRS (France). She obtained her PhD at Aix-Marseille University in 2015. In 2017, she received a Thesis Dissertation Award by the Louis Cros-CUIP Foundation and Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques(Institute of France, Paris). Since her undergraduate studies, she studied and worked in various academic institutions in Italy, Egypt, France, USA, Lebanon, Portugal, Belgium and Tunisia. In 2014, she was a Guest Lecturer at University of Illinois (USA). She worked as Teaching Assistant at University of Sorbonne Nouvelle and Aix-Marseille University. She was Postdoc Visiting Research Fellow at Institute of Social Sciences (Lisbon), Centre d’Études Maghrébinesand Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC)(Tunis), Institut Français du Proche Orient (Beirut). She has disseminated her research findings at many international conferences in Australia, UK, Turkey, USA, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Italy, Spain, France. A number of her public presentations have turned into individual and collective publications(“Legitimizing Child-Martyrdom? The Emergence of a New Subjectivity of the People in the Revolutionary Egypt”, Mediterranean Politics;“The right to play or the right to war? Humanitarianism addressing childhood and youth in Lebanon”(with E. Carpi) in Cheney K., Sinervo A. (Eds.) Children as objects of humanitarian intervention: NGO commodification of disadvantaged childhoods, Palgrave; “Children’s Citizenship: Revolution and the Seeds of an Alternative Future in Egypt”in Linda Herrera (Ed.), Rehab Sakr. Wired Citizenship: Youth Learning and Activism in the Middle East, Routledge). She has also worked for international agencies and NGOs (Plan International Ireland, World Bank, UNESCO, COSPE Egypt). Her current research interests include childhood and youth, civil society, education, political socialization, memory of 2010-2011 revolution in Tunisia and in Egypt. She is currently project manager of the artistic project Mémoires intimes d’une révolution(with the photographer Hugo Albignac) and founder member of the Association of Middle East Children’s and Youth Studies (AMECYS).http://repi.ulb.ac.be/fr/users/cdianahttps://ulb.academia.edu/ChiaraDiana


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