Dissertation Research

My dissertation aims to understand the cycle of militancy in democracy. I investigate patterns in the psychology of joining violent groups (or not), militants’ choices in terms of violence, and judicial decisions on extremists’ punishments. The empirical elements of my dissertation come from violent Italian organizations that developed in the 1970s, especially the Red Brigades (RB). To carry out my research I analyze fine-grained archival data and interview evidence associated with the Red Brigades using advanced statistical and network methods. 

Committee: Dr. Thomas Dolan (Chair), Dr. Güneş Murat Tezcür, Dr. Jacopo Baggio, Dr. Kelsey Larsen


Research in Progress

“The Internal Heterogeneity of Terroristic Organizations” – Working Paper.
Presented at International Studies Association (ISA) and Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference (2022)

What explains the heterogeneity among different cells of the same terroristic organization? Network-based and hybrid terrorist organizations often present heterogeneity among their cells. These organizational and strategic differences are important because understanding specific cells’ characteristics help tailor counter-terrorism policies. However, few scholars have attempted to systematically explain differences among the cells within a terror group. This study explains the extent of heterogeneity across cells using their political objectives, tactics, level of secrecy, and members’ socio-economic background.  I test my hypotheses using a historical analysis of the colonne of the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades) between 1970 and 1984. Considerable variation among the columns makes the Italian terrorist group useful for testing my theory. Findings suggest that the higher the diversity of political objectives, tactics, level of secrecy, and members’ socio-economic background, the greater the internal heterogeneity of terrorist organizations. 

“Women’s Participation in Violent Political Organizations (VPOs)” – Working Paper.
Presented at Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference (2022)

To what extent do revolutionary violent political organizations show considerable women’s participation than non-revolutionary ones? While most literature claims that leftist movements are more likely to involve women (Gonzalez-Perez, 2008; Tezcür, 2020), female participation varies among leftist groups. While many revolutionary movements demand mass mobilization to reshape the social order, non-revolutionary (i.e., nationalist) groups often have more limited objectives. I argue that revolutionary group leaders tend to adopt more progressive platforms of gender egalitarianism to modify the traditional social hierarchies and welcome women’s involvement better than non-revolutionary ones. Qualitative evidence from the Red Brigades and the Basque ETA group shows that the former presents a higher female presence and participation in combat roles than the latter. Large-N analysis relying on the WARD and NAGs datasets is promising in confirming such findings and contributes to the existing literature based on single case study approaches. 


Policy Writings

Ricci, E. (2023) Can the Rise of Far-Right Parties Spark Extremist Violence?Political Violence at a Glance

Ricci, E. (2019) The 16+1 Initiative. China Section.

Ricci, E. (2018) Assessing the Trump-Kim Summit. Delhi Policy Group, Policy Brief, III (10)

Ricci, E. (2018) The European Union World. Delhi Policy Group, Policy Brief, III (11)


Original Data Collection & Fieldwork

Understanding Political Violence: Archival Research in Italy, 2021. Milan State Archive, Feltrinelli Archive, Moroni Archive

Understanding Militancy Patterns: Interviews and Archival Research in Italy, 2022. Interviews with former members of the Red Brigades and other armed organizations active in Italy during the 1970. Archieves: Milan State Archive, Turin State Archive, Rome Historical Archive of the Senate, Gramsci Archive.