Recensione al libro di Felia Allum, Camorristi, politicians and businessman. The transformation of organized crime in post-war Naples, Northen University Press, 2006.

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The article is focused on analysing the role of female figures in the mafia criminal organizations. Starting from a comparative analysis of the ways in which - over time - have changed the forms of manifestation of the female power and the male domination in specific criminal contexts (especially in the Cosa Nostra, but not only), we will consider the dialectic of visibility/invisibility, appearance/reality behind which hides the need to respond to the cliché for which the women must be strong but must appear weak; at the same time we will try to understand what are the forms of materialization of women’s power in these contexts and which are the circumstances that make possible their legitimacy and their visibility.Recent studies on the role of women within the mafia criminal organizations in Italy have clearly shown that, over time, not only there was a change in female roles, but especially has changed the women’s visibility. In the last two decades, in fact, the criminal organization, weakened by the many arrests, has increasingly entrusted to women the responsibility to preserve, affirm and reflect its image of power to the outside. In times of emergency for the criminal organization, women are considered the most reliable interlocutors. They have been assigned tasks of decisive importance for organization’s survival. Women are used to keep the money and collecting payments, to communicate between the prisoners and the outside world; they have been involved with roles of responsibility in the affairs of the clan, and they have a full knowledge of the criminal strategies . If we consider the symbolic as a privileged approach and using for analysis a range of communicative situations in which women of the Mafia were the protagonists, we can show how the particular ambiguity that characterizes the female role in the criminality led the women - especially in the past - to take on roles seemingly sheltered and marginal but in reality very important for the Mafia. These roles hasn’t often been recognized - by the men and by the public opinion – as forms of direct power. Even in cases of liability within overt criminal acts developed by the organization, such situations have often been interpreted (even by the investigators) as cases of temporary delegation of powers (considering once again the role of female figures as a vicarious function). If the public image of Mafia women is like that, it is important to understand - using the few available sources - what are the beliefs and experiences of women themselves.Using direct evidence, interviews, letters and judicial materials, we will attempt to reconstruct the story and the image of the Mafia conveyed by the women who live inside it or who have direct contact with it. The gender perspective emerges from these women’s stories both in the interconnection between personal stories and the mafia tales both in the use of the words and of the cognitive worlds in which their stories have meaning.A mafia told through the gender’s prism that - in the mirror image comparison with the men narratives - discovers routes and new perspectives to develop and to know new facets of a changing world.
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)72-73
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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