“These Dead Are Not Ours”: Identity Factors, Communicative Aspects and Regulative Meanings of Violence inside Cosa Nostra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The essay analyses the use and meaning of violence inside Cosa Nostra within a wider theoretical context which allows to grasp its conceptual frameworks and its rich phenomenological expressions.Starting from the studies led by the Constructivists and the post-Structuralists, it focuses the reader’s attention on the relationship between violence and power (Weber, Poplitz, Arendt), the topic of the achievement of legitimacy for violence through speech (Benjamin, Derrida), its link with physicality (biopolitics, quoting Foucault) and its rootedness in the sphere of the symbolic and of the “social space” (Bourdieu), the specular and “spectacular” dimension of exhibited violence (Ruggiero). Elements that find broad acknowledgment in the violent practices used by Cosa Nostra.Drawing on the pioneering studies by Franchetti about mafia as “industry of violence” (and not neglecting its regulative, political, organisational aspects), the chapter offers an interpretation of mafia violence as an identity factor, a means for symbolic “display” of power, but also as an indispensable way to underscore the limits of membership and legitimacy.Adopting a diachronic and comparative perspective, it widely resorts to court documents and decisions, wiretappings, interviews with justice collaborators, firsthand empirical data, in addition to historical documents. Not neglecting the distinction between private and public sphere, internal and external violence, a special importance is given to communicative aspects and the sphere of emotions: the theme of silence about violence; the narrative and colloquial dimension of violence; the relationship among violence, secret, power; between violence and death; among violence, fear, pain; between violence and guilt; between violence and repentance; between violence and lie.For each one of the examined aspects, the analytical framework is supported by punctual references to specific episodes: from the spectacular use of violence during the Second Mafia War, to the murder and abduction of young Giuseppe Di Matteo. From the violent behaviours towards women, to the murder of father Puglisi. From the “immaterial” dimensions of the symbolic domain that passes through the educational process, to the dialectical violence expressed during communicative exchanges.Finally it closes with the “terroristic” and “overflowing” violence of the early ‘90s massacres and with the recourse to lie, red herrings, ambiguity as a more sophisticated form of violence that is no more “just mafia’s prerogative”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMafia Violence. Political, Symbolic, and Economic Forms of Violence in Camorra Clans
Pages35-55
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameROUTLEDGE ADVANCES IN CRIMINOLOGY

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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