Sociology and war

by Anne Holohan


What is a European Commission Marie Curie Incoming International fellowship? Why move to Italy? Why Trento? To start from the top...
Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowships are designed to attract researchers working outside Europe to come to work in Europe. The goal is to improve the quality and competitiveness of research in the EU. Although I grew up in Ireland I am eligible for this award, as I lived in the US for the 7 and a half years prior to coming to Italy (the rule being you must have lived outside Europe for 5 years prior to getting the award). So what is my research and why is Italy a good place to do it in and from?
My research concerns international interventions, whether authorized by the UN or not. These interventions involve security, democratization and reconstruction. No one organization can do it alone (as is being shown in Iraq with the US military's difficulties). My research tries to answer the question of how to get the diverse organizations working on these tasks in international interventions, such as Kosovo or Afghanistan or Iraq, to cooperate together, and with the local populations. I propose that if the organizations temporarily become part of one integrated 'network' organization that is also loose enough to include the local populations, this goes a long way to producing the necessary trust and shared institutional culture that makes possible real cooperation and coordination. Information and communication technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones also play a big role in establishing trust and improving cooperation.
My research agenda includes testing in Afghanistan the model of cooperation that I learned in Kosovo. In addition, I am building on the research I did in Kosovo to produce theory and ideas that increase our understanding of networking and cooperation between organizations and local networks. In particular I am looking at predominantly Islamic societies, at the faith-based networks and local institutions that can contribute in as yet untapped ways to democratization.
So why Trento? My research touches on a lot of subject areas within sociology, political science and communications, and is best summed up as “the sociology of international relations.” The University of Trento has a diverse and distinguished range of professors and research across the range of my interests, so it is an excellent intellectual environment for me. On another level, as we all know, there is a wide range of views within and between the United States and Europe on interventions, and having lived in and experienced the United States, the European Commission and Trento are giving me the opportunity to learn more about international relations from a European perspective.
And the glorious mountains, lakes, food and vino have nothing to do with it….


Anne Holohan’s book, Networks in Democracy: Lessons from Kosovo for Afghanistan, Iraq and Beyond, will be published by Stanford University Press in Spring, 2005. She can be contacted at: