Research

1. THE ANATOMY OF HUMAN DESTRUCTIVENESS (REVISITED)


Since 2005 my research have embraced two of the most alarming forms of human destructiveness of our time.

1.1 [2005-present]. The first research project concerns the political, cultural and religious conditions of terrorist violence, the ideological justifications and rationality underlying terrorist organizations’ decision-making, and the ideological frames, motivations and group dynamics responsible for the radicalization of extremist militants. The empirical cases which have been examined for this research area include: a) suicide terrorism campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen (among others), investigating whether or not such campaigns have been associated with nationalist insurgencies; b) the systematic use by al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations of terrorist tactics against defenseless targets, with special reference to attacks on the Shiite population in Iraq and Pakistan; c) profiles of combatants and suicide attackers, particularly militants recruited by al-Qaeda and its affiliates and allies, such as those involved in September 11 and London 2005, as well as those taking part in the Iraqi insurgency since 2003 and Syrian war since 2011 (for example, members, including foreign fighters, of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a.k.a Islamic State in Iraq / Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant / Islamic State[ISIS]).

1.2 [2013-present]. The second research project has to do to with an attempt to elaborate a theoretical framework for several cases of suicidal behavior combined with murder. Drawing on studies concerning the social bases of personality and micro-processes conducive to violent behaviors, this line of research is directed to comparing social characters and patterns of deviance underlying the destructiveness and self-destructiveness of suicide killers in different circumstances in contemporary society: not only in situations of political and religious terrorism associated, for example, with transnational jihadism, but also in the contexts of school shootings, workplace murders, and intimate violence. Therefore, in addition to political and religious suicide missions (which have been the topic of a previous project [1.1]), additional investigations are focusing on homicide-suicides in Europe and the United States, particularly familicides followed by suicide (viewed as one of the most radical cases of annihilation in humans). In this respect, since 2013 I have conducted a research on familicides in Italy between 1992 and 2015, in order to identify main profiles of family annihilators and, on the basis of a more in-depth analysis of their biographical background, their typical motivations and situational/relational processes responsible for their ‘radicalization’.

2. A SOCIOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING OF SUICIDE SURVIVORS’ BEREAVEMENT


[2015-present]. With Deborah Fraccaro (Ph.D., University of Trento / Paris-Sorbonne University)

Since 2015 we have been engaged in a research on suicide bereavement and suicide support groups, focusing on the case study of suicide survivors in the Italian province of Trento and their involvement in the local mutual aid groups which belong to the network of the A.M.A. AssociationTwo main aspects are examined. The first relates to the more comprehensive reality of suicide bereavement in the social and cultural context of the community under consideration. We aim at understanding how the experience of the devastating loss of a loved one to suicide is influenced by survivors’ perception of reactions within their community; at the same time, we are interested in the effects of their participation to support groups. The second objective consists of exploring the internal dynamics and interaction processes of the mutual aid groups: more specifically, their distinctive relational and emotional resources, which help survivors to cope with the complex psychological and social distresses associated with their bereavement. Our investigation is mainly based on a qualitative and interpretative approach. On the one hand, survivors’ sense-making and other crucial elements of the grief stages are understood by resorting to a series of unstructured and biographical interviews with support group members and facilitators. On the other hand, the opportunity of our attendance and participant observation at the meetings of a selected aid group provides invaluable and crucial evidences of the specific healing potential of this form of mutual self-help [The entire research project was kindly approved by the A.M.A. Association. The Legal Office of the University of Trento gave legal advice in order to protect the privacy of the group participants and to guarantee their anonymity. Both interviews and our attendance at the group meetings have been subject to consent forms signed by the group participants. This research received no funding from any source].

 

© Domenico Tosini – 2018