Enrico Acciai

Enrico Acciai

Guest researcher

Primary fields of research

Italian History

Spanish History

Transnational and Global Studies

Transnational War Volunteering



Current research

I'm working on the research project Foreign Fighters: Past, Present and Future


For two centuries, between the French Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the model for military mobilization was closely intertwined with the nation-state and conscription. But, as the distinguished Israeli historian Nir Arielli writes, non-state mobilization did not disappear from the scene. In fact, the phenomenon of western foreign fighters is once again on the increase, as the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and Syria remind us. To what extent, then, is it possible to conceptualize a global history of transnational war volunteering?

Historiography rarely concerns itself with investigating the capacity that war volunteering has to endure and persist across time. We intend to examine the continuation not only of memories and ideals passed down from one generation of fighters to another, but also the ability of foreign fighters and their networks to reactivate themselves as soon as a new conflict begins. In that direction volunteering during the Spanish Civil War and the European resistance movements formed part of a longer tradition, dating back to the 19th century.

Foreign Fighters: Past, Present and Future carefully examines the time-span from the antifascist struggles of the 1930s to the present. Crucially, this project is not only about history. It wants to engage with the present as well as the future. Thus, the project’s ambition is also to offer key conceptual registers to better comprehend the rapid emergence of foreign fighters in contemporary conflicts.

The research project has been funded by the Carlsberg Foundation to the tune of DKK 2,6 million and will be carried out by board member Professor Morten Heiberg and Dr. Enrico Acciai.


Office hours: Friday 10 - 12

ID: 217142304