The first time I met Professor Mario Caligiuri was during my PhD. I was in the middle of it, and I had recently published my monograph on the philosophy of war. Everything started with that. I sent the book to Professor Caligiuri, and then a long conversation on intelligence and war started. Then, I met him several times, even in the outstanding Master of Intelligence – University of Calabria, where I was honored to present my research two times as an invited lecturer. In 2018, I started to be part of Intelligence Lab. To make a long story short, we co-authored a book, Intelligence Studies, where we try to compare the Italian intelligence experience and the Anglo-Saxon intelligence from a theoretical and practical perspective. We are currently working together to bring Italian intelligence to the attention of international journals of Intelligence Studies. Meanwhile, Professor Caligiuri and Dr Luigi Rucco, who also co-authored a book Quantum Intelligence, worked relentlessly to elaborate a sound strategy to boost Italy’s intelligence culture, which is Professor Caligiuri’s long-lasting mission even before he was appointed director of the Master of Intelligence. Then, Professor Caligiuri, along with Professor Domenico Talia and Professor Alberto Ventura, founded the Italian Intelligence Society (or, as I call it, Italian Society of Intelligence). Though still very young, this an already vibrant national reality scientifically and culturally. Given the current Italian landscape, this is more than simple good news. This is a light of hope. Then, they invited me to be part of the Editorial Board. I was honored to accept and then I started to work on the project “Intelligence & Interview”, which should be republished by the Society when it reached a sufficient number of publications. The Italian version will be in English for international readers, and the English interviews will be republished in Italian. This is the project. In this way, I&I will be able to bring international scholars within Italian intelligence studies and vice versa. As recently stated in a podcast, we must work united to bring the national experiences to the scientific community. For this reason, I waited to consolidate the already substantial audience of I&I to interview Professor Caligiuri and Dr Rucco. Then, it is with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet, is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Mario and Luigi: thank you!
1. Professor Mario Caligiuri & Dr Luigi Rucco, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the International readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?
Mario Caligiuri: I approached the world of Intelligence as part of my academic research more than 20 years ago. At that time, my main intellectual interest was Public Communication and, more specifically, Institutional Communication. Hence, I started to look at the Intelligence Services to understand their approach to Institutional Communication. At the beginning of my research, the communication style of the Intelligence Services was much less open than today’s.
Over the years, the “culture of secrecy” has shifted towards a “culture of security” and the style of communication has evolved consequently. These dynamics have led to the creation -in 1996- of the first journal on intelligence in Italy, promoted by the Internal Intelligence Services (SiSDE) and named “Per Aspera ad Veritatem”, which has then been renamed as “Gnosis” and is available online in open access. The same trend has also led to the creation of a web-portal of the Intelligence, which is now run by the Coordinating Body (DIS) of the Agencies. In the early 2000s, I have given a contribution to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for the project on this web-portal.
In parallel, Intelligence Studies started to evolve in Italy. In 2007, I launched the first study program in a public Italian university, the Master in Intelligence at the University of Calabria, where I am currently a full professor. The program was initially sponsored by the President Emeritus of the Italian Republic, Francesco Cossiga. The Master has been growing in popularity and this year we overtook the threshold of 40 applicants. At the University of Calabria, we have also promoted the first Laurea Magistrale (MA) in Intelligence in Italy. Thanks to the collaboration with the Publisher Rubbettino, we have launched a book series on Intelligence Studies, which has now reached many publications from some of the top experts in Italy and Europe. The establishment of the Società Italiana di Intelligence (SOCINT – Italian Intelligence Society) is my last initiative in the process of promotion of Intelligence Studies in Italy. The goal is to have the Intelligence recognized as an academic discipline within the Italian universities, as is the case in many English-speaking countries.
Luigi Rucco: I started the collaboration with Prof. Caligiuri during the Master in Intelligence at the University of Calabria. I enrolled in the Master in 2018, after a few years of professional experience, with a PhD and two MSc (one abroad) in my background. Many of my colleagues were experienced professionals with multiple post-graduate study experiences. The executive weekend formula helped a lot because there was no need to pause the career. A rich background of work experience and education is a common pattern observable in the alumni of the Master of Intelligence: it attracts people with a true passion for interdisciplinary knowledge. I would say that studying intelligence is an ideal capstone for who wants to “connect the dots” of multiple knowledge domains and understand the impact of the ongoing socio-technical dynamics in the present and future World. One of the requirements of the Master -besides courses, exams, and Thesis- was a project/stage. My project was the “start-up” of the SOCINT, which at that time had been recently founded but not operational yet. This initiative gave me the opportunity to work on a real-world challenge, which was exciting from both an intellectual and a practical viewpoint. Prof. Caligiuri was my tutor throughout the project. Soon, from the initial idea, we have been able to build a reality that is growing fast and is producing interesting intellectual outcomes. After the project, I accepted the role of Secretary-General of SOCINT, on a voluntary and unpaid basis, to bring forward the work that we had started. This is the beginning of the journey.
2. Professor Caligiuri is the president of the Italian Society of Intelligence (Società Italiana di Intelligence – SOCINT), and Dr Rucco is the general secretary (and I’m part of the editorial board.) What is the SOCINT’s mission?
The mission of the SOCINT is the promotion of the scientific culture underlying the Intelligence Studies in Italy. Our goal is to establish and consolidate the Intelligence Studies as an academic field in the Country. The SOCINT is the first Scientific Society gathering scholars who work in this field. Hence, it is also a “common house” for both researchers and intellectually engaged practitioners in this field.
3. Knowing how an institution was established in the first place, its developments, and history gives a significant glance to the institution itself. Very briefly, what is the main SOCINT history timeline?
Let us keep the conversation on a scientific ground and introduce a proper theoretical framework to explain the social construction of the network underpinning the SOCINT. A simplified version of the “Actor-Network Theory (ANT)” by Bruno Latour e Michel Callon provides a useful representation to this purpose (the reader who is not familiar with ANT can refer to one of the many scientific references describing the meaning of key ANT concepts like: network, actor, actant, forum, translation, problematization, interessement, enrollment, mobilization).
Prof. Mario Caligiuri is an actor who initially built the network of scientific, cultural, and institutional relations underpinning the SOCINT. He successfully implemented the network-building process that the ANT theory refers to as translation process, going through various phases:
- Problematization: Prof. Caligiuri has been able to make a convincing case for the launch of a Scientific Society on Intelligence Studies in Italy, which was missing at that time. Important mediators, like the prominent expert Carlo Mosca, played a key role in laying the scientific basis for the initiative.
- Interessement: Prof. Caligiuri started to involve other actors in the conversation. Prof. Domenico Talia and Prof. Alberto Ventura were the first scholars that got interested in the project, also thanks to their commitment to Intelligence Studies as faculty members of the Master in Intelligence.
- Enrollment: Prof. Caligiuri enrolled Prof. Talia and Prof. Ventura in the project.
- Mobilization: the three actors founded the Società Italiana di Intelligence (SOCINT). Subsequently, many other Italian scholars have been involved, who are now leading the Regional Sections that are covering the 20 Italian Regions.
The translation process then extended to Mr. Luigi Barberio, an alumnus of the Master in Intelligence, who was appointed as Treasurer of the SOCINT. Then, Dr. Rucco -another alumnus of the Master in Intelligence- was enrolled in the context of his project work for the Master program. He “enrolled” in turn other actants, mainly technology artifacts, which played a key role to expand the network.
This translation process gave birth to the original forum that still represents the core of the SOCINT, which has now evolved into a much bigger network.
4. What are the methods employed by SOCINT to achieve its mission?
Among the actants that helped to expand the network, there were both human and non-human agents, particularly technological artifacts. The information system developed by Dr. Rucco was the first actant to be enrolled. This information system features a web portal and an automated backend system for the management of the applications and the online processing of payments. These artifacts ensured the sustainability and scalability of the network in the face of a limited number of human actors involved in the original forum. Other actants enrolled in this stage include the social channels (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter) that helped to reach a broader audience. The digital badges automatically generated by the portal represent other artifacts that are relevant for the translation process since they help to create a sense of community in the associates.
Among the actants subsequently enrolled, there are several newspaper articles/news and the inaugural event at the Camera dei Deputati, Rome, in October 2019. This event helped to communicate the values underpinning the SOCINT, thus generating interest in other actors who started to apply to be part of the SOCINT. The Scientific Committee of the Society was formed in this phase, thanks to the ability of Prof. Caligiuri to interest and enroll the top experts in the field of Intelligence Studies in Italy.
The number of associates has been growing ever since and now SOCINT counts more than 200 associates, including scholars and intellectually engaged practitioners.
A year after, another key actant has been enrolled, i.e. the Publishing Portal (SOCINT Press), implemented by Dr. Rucco based on a professional open-source standard. The implementation of the SOCINT Press allowed to enroll other non-human actors, i.e. the scientific publications on Intelligence Studies written by scholars and made available in open access. The enactment of the SOCINT Press allowed to further disseminate Intelligence-related knowledge. This initiative attracted and enrolled other scholars/practitioners, who have been writing or reading our publications.
The Scientific Committee and the Editorial Board of the SOCINT Press are further examples of new actors enrolled thanks to the enactment of the publishing technology. You are part of the Editorial Team, Giangiuseppe, thus you were involved in this phase of the translation process.
In the future, we also plan to implement an online teaching portal to complement the activities of the SOCINT. The enrollment of this new artifact will help to further expand and strengthen the network.
Another important actant, recently enrolled, is the “Francesco Cossiga Prize” (Premio Francesco Cossiga) for the Intelligence Studies, firstly assigned in August 2020 to Carlo Mosca. This prize will be assigned every year to a scholar or a practitioner that has given a significant contribution to the Intelligence Studies in Italy. This initiative further helps in consolidating the network by involving the thought leaders in this academic field.
Recently, the expansion of the network received a boost thanks to the launch of the Regional Sections, which are already organizing a series of scientific and cultural activities.
5. SOCINT is a new society but already super-active. For instance, the Society has regular official groups spread all over Italy. Mr Giacomo Carrus, Scuola Filosofica Team, is the regional secretary for Sardinia (my own region). Why did SOCINT was organized to have an active group for each Italian region?
As we were mentioning, the institution of the Regional Sections is the latest stage in the translation process that is constructing the SOCINT network. The Sections can organize their own events, onboard technology artifacts (e.g. regional social pages, like in the case of the Puglia region) and launch new initiatives of scientific and cultural interest. In this way, regional actors can interest, enroll, and mobilize other actors in their geographic area, further spreading the scientific culture of Intelligence Studies. We have also established two foreign Sections, one in France and the other in San Marino. Other foreign Sections will be established in the future. The goal is to promote cross-fertilization with the community of Intelligence Studies in Europe and beyond.
6. Is SOCINT interested in new partnerships and memberships abroad, or is it more focused on Italian territory?
Yes, we are. And we have already started. Recently, we have established a partnership with the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Récits, Cultures et Sociétés (LIRCES – UPR 3159) of the Université Côte d’Azur, in France. Our goal is to establish partnerships with other international academic/research institutions and -why not- with other Scientific Societies. Our natural positioning, however, remains within the scientific and academic sectors.
7. How would you describe these first years of work and research?
Having already discussed the social dynamics that have led to the construction of the SOCINT network, let us use some figures to answer this question:
- More than 200 associates since the launch in 2019.
- Up to now, 150 scholar subscriptions to our petition for the establishment of a formal disciplinary sector for Intelligence Studies in Italy. The petition will be presented to the Ministry of University and Research to ask the recognition of Intelligence Studies as an academic discipline.
- About 70 news/ mentions in national (e.g. RAI TG2, Sky TG24, Formiche, il Giornale, Radio Radicale, etc.) and international media (e.g. Forbes, the American Herald Tribune, the Huffington Post).
- About 25 events organized, including the launch of our publications.
- More than 20 Sections established in Italian regions and foreign countries.
- About 15 publications already issued on the SOCINT Press portal, by releasing our ISBN and DOI identifiers. Other publications on Intelligence Studies have also been sponsored by other publishers.
- Already 2 consecutive years with very positive balance sheets, thanks to the voluntary and unpaid contribution of ours and our collaborators.
- Institution of the 1 prize for the Intelligence Studies, the 1st of its kind in Italy. The prize is dedicated to Francesco Cossiga, President emeritus of the Italian Republic.
- Release of 1 Open Access Publishing Platform dedicated to the Intelligence Studies.
Planned release of 1 Online Teaching Platform dedicated to Intelligence Studies.
8. How can our readers follow you and SOCINT?
9. Five keywords that represent you?
We are a the first and only (1) Scientific Society that promotes the (2) intelligence studies in Italy and aims to be a (3) generative haven for (4) scholars and (5) intellectually engaged practitioners in this field.