Trained in classical Islamic studies and the history of Islam in Indonesia - in Italy (University of Rome) and London (SOAS) respectively. Formichi has held positions in Singapore (post-doctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute), Leiden (research fellow at the KITLV), and at the City University of Hong Kong (as Assistant Professor in Asian and International Studies, and Associate Director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre, SEARC).
At Cornell she teaches courses on various aspects of religion in Asia, with a focus on Islam and Southeast Asia. Amongst her course offerings are the general education courses "Religion and Society in Asia" and "Islam in Asia". Formichi will also lead two advanced seminars on "Shi'ism in Southeast Asia" and "Ritual and Performance in Muslim Southeast Asia".
Formichi's academic interests cover the contested role of Islam in politics during the Dutch Indies/Indonesia's late colonial era, current problems related to sectarianism and orthodoxy in Muslim Southeast Asia, and more broadly the question of religious diversity and pluralism in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. A recurrent thread in her research are transnational flows of ideas (secular and religious like), the intersection between foreign and localized religious practices and understandings, and the impact that the politicization and institutionalization of religion has on Asia's societies.
Her publications include the monograph Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and political Islam in 20th century Indonesia (2012, KITLV), the edited volumes Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia (2013, Routledge) and Shi'ism in Southeast Asia(2014, Hurst&Co., with R. Michael Feener), a contribution to The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three, a number of journal articles (Indonesia Journal, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Die Welt des Islams) and several book chapters.