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Blurred Boundaries: Sicilians and their Mafia

Social Consensus, Cultural Embeddedness, and the Humus That Must be Changed.
Toni de Bromhead

Abstracts

This paper examines the nature of Cosa Nostra, how it exists in parallel to the State, the way it depends on social consensus, and how it is culturally embedded within some sections of its community. This paper also examines the approach taken by the many some social anti-mafia activists in their struggle to change a way of thinking that presently makes it possible for ordinary people to tolerate if not accept the Mafia. The paper cites and shows examples taken from a body of visual ethnography on the subject of the Mafia and social anti-mafia.

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I should like to thank all those who participated in my visual-ethnography project on the social anti-mafia and who, with great generosity and patience, let me film them. I should especially like to thank members of Addio Pizzo, members of ARCHE, Augusto Cavadi, members of Cambiamenti, members of Castello Libero, Enrico Colojani, Sebastiano Cruciata, Vincenzo Desiderio, Domenico Grassa, Salvatore Ingui, Pino Maniaci, his daughter Latizia Maniaci, who all helped make the project possible. Particular thanks, also, to Naor Ben-Yehoyada for reading this paper and making a number of useful suggestions. And also Jane and Peter Schneider who generously gave their time to view the films and give me feed-back.

All mistakes, however, are entirely mine.

1The ethnography used in this paper mostly comes from my project BLURRED BOUNDARIES - ordinary citizens fighting the Mafia in Sicily. This is a collection of ethnographic films about the Mafia and the social anti-mafia, shot between 1992 - 2016 in Western Sicily. So far there are eight long films and numerous short films, all made by Toni de Bromhead. They may be seen on www.tonidebromhead.uk - a website that is still being constructed at the time of writing. Scenes from these films have been inserted within this text, not as illustrations but to add another level of information to the discussion, and to provide a brief experience of some of the situations being mentioned. This is of particular relevance within this context as non-verbal communication, or rather the use of the body to communicate is an integral part of any Sicilian discourse. In this paper reference is made to the following films:

Introduction

2As a visual/social anthropologist, I have been researching the subject of Cosa Nostra and the Sicilian social anti-mafia for over twenty-five years, first working with Sicilian criminals (from Western Sicily) in Florence, and then moving to Western Sicily where I continued my work with social anti-mafia activists in the province of Trapani, and sometimes Palermo. I particularly focused on Castellammare del Golfo (province of Trapani), which has a beautiful fishing port that is now attracting tourists. It is a “high density” mafia town, and is the birthplace of, amongst others, the American Mafia boss, Joe 'Bananas' of the Bonano family.

  • 1 For Lo Verso there are only three real mafia associations, Cosa Nostra, the 'Ndrangheta, and the Al (...)
  • 2 When I am specifically referring to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, I use Mafia with a capital M. When I (...)
  • 3 This information is referred to or emerges in some way in these films - A Town in Sicily, A Wind of (...)

3The word mafia is used rather loosely as a label for organised crime, but in fact there are at least three of them that are significantly different in nature to most of the other mafias, and unlike them cannot "be reduced to ordinary criminality"(Cavadi 2009:32) These are the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian 'Ndranghetta, and the Albanian Casalesi. 1In this paper I am dealing with the Sicilian mafia2 Cosa Nostra, more commonly known as the Mafia. Unlike most organised crime, this is not just a criminal strata laid onto the society that it exploits and abuses, instead Cosa Nostra is culturally and socially rooted into the society it feeds off, and is tied into its community through vertical ties that thread through the different layers of Sicilian society. This makes it more difficult to eradicate because the straight-forward combating of this criminal group by the forces of order and the justice system proves to be insufficient. Instead, it also requires changing the mentalità - the way of thinking - of a people who are by default, tacitly, implicitly, or actively supporting their local Mafia family. (For more on this see A Town in Sicily, Wind of Change, Scorched Earth)3

4Alongside the Mafia, numerous social anti-mafia associations have sprung up in the area, some island-wide but most of them small and local to a particular area, and almost entirely run by volunteers. Some of these associations have scarcely definable differences, such as the three larger associations that were expressly set up to help people stop paying the pizzo, and give them support if they take this step and collaborate in taking their persecutors to court. These are AntiRacket (mostly found in the South, but also in Northern regions of Italy, like the Veneto), Addio Pizzo and Libero Futuro (both founded in Palermo and now spreading outwards). They sometimes work together, such as in specific campaigns, and the differences between them are not always clear to outsiders.

  • 4 For a discussion on associations in Sicily see G. Notari Cultura in (s)vendita. L'associazionismo c (...)

5Many of these associations are dedicated to specific 'martyrs', such as Rita Atria for example, so adding complexity to the situation but when they are working well together, these associations are effective. All too often, however, quarrels and petti- jealousies arise which undermine their strength and work. There seems to be a continuous process of alliance and fragmentation.4

6In order to counter this tendency a priest from the North, Don Ciotti, founded the national organisation Lìbera. It brings together those small organisations that wish to join and are willing to adhere to its ethics and practices, offering them shelter under its large umbrella, but permitting them to retain their identity and independence while also belonging to a larger entity that holds far more clout than any one of them individually.

7One of the ongoing discussions within the anti-mafia is how to describe the Mafia’s position within its host society. It may be referred to as a subculture, a sub-branch of main society, or a discrete group that functions within that society. It is also described as being a trans-culture (Santino 2015:6-7) in the sense of a complex culture that has adopted different elements over time, a concept that is relevant to the main body of my discussion here. None the less I prefer to describe the Mafia as a parallel structure within the State, with them both influencing and infiltrating each other in different ways and at different levels. This is close to what Falcone put forward, that the Mafia "sees itself as a state within the State, and governs itself with laws or iron, imposes itself with violence towards its own members". (Falcone and Padovani 1993:16)

  • 5 de Bromhead 1998 Ph.D. thesis Masculinity and Sexual Identity amongst a Small Group of Petty-Crimin (...)

8Sicilian academics and activists also speak of the Mafia being embedded in their society (Giorgi 2019:39), and of there being a social consensus within the wider population that supports it, without which the Mafia could not survive. (Cavadi 2009:20; Giorgi 2019:30) Social consensus and cultural embededness are not the same thing, however, and need to be differentiated for this paper. I therefore begin by briefly outlining what I understand to be social consensus in relation to Castellammare del Golfo, which is followed in the subsequent section by an example of cultural embeddedness based on my work with Sicilian criminals in Florence.5

Social Consensus

I believe that it is the lack of a sense of State, of State as an interior value, which is the root-cause of the distortions in the Sicilian soul: the dichotomy between society and State; the consequent over-reliance on family, on group, on clan: the search for rationalisation that will allow everyone to live and work in perfect anomie, without reference to the rules of collective life. What is the root of the Mafia if not that mixture of anomie and primitive violence? The Mafia is, essentially, nothing but the expression of need for order, for the control of a State. (Falcone and Padovani 1993:56)

  • 6 Vincenzo Desiderio 2020. Private conversation

9Although there are only about five thousand ‘signed up’ mafiosi in Sicily, that is men who have gone through initiation and formally belong to the organisation, a large percent of the population is, in one way or another, directly or indirectly, associated with the Mafia. Possibly because this might suit them, or because the connection to the Mafia may seem remote, but also because - as one informant put it - "Sicilians like short cuts"6. By the very nature of the situation it is impossible to have exact statistics, however a large proportion of the population is said to be tacitly tied into this second system, however remotely, and it is this which maintains the social consensus that the Mafia relies on for its survival.

  • 7 Vincenzo Desiderio 2020. Private conversation

10My work in Castellammare revealed, in different ways, a high degree of concensus. The situation here may be described as a series of concentric circles spreading outwards from a Mafia core, with the Mafia involvement diminishing as the circles spread further out until, at the outer extremity, there is none at all.7 The circle closest to the Mafia core is composed of those who actively support and participate in illegal activities while the next circle includes those who passively support the Mafia, not overtly doing anything illegal but conveniently turning a blind eye.

  • 8 Salvatore Ingui. 2020. Private correspondence

11Holding these different circles together is the network of illegal connections and services still existing, in part, because many Sicilians feel unable to trust the State. An example of this arose with Covid. In Palermo it was the Mafia, and not the State, who distributed food to the poorest through lock-down, but in the town of Marsala it was the association Libera who fulfilled this role precisely to keep the Mafia out. 8

12It is therefore unsurprising that the Mafia today still has a high degree of support within its community, even though it may largely be through pragmatism rather than any particular belief in or liking for the organisation. The social consensus therefore emerges from a way of thinking that accepts the Mafia as an alternative system that can help people out in moments of necessity, even though the State rules this to be illegal.

13It is also this acceptance of services from the Mafia in a time of need that puts ordinary honest citizens into debt with the organisation though, as the following example indicates, it is sometimes accepted in ignorance and the outcome may not be the one desired by the Mafia.

14The Mafia got in touch with a Castellammarese small-time builder when he let out a restaurant to a professional restaurateur. When the enterprise began to do well, the local Mafia wanted pizzo payment, and as a first step towards developing a relationship with the restaurant they recommended a woman who had experience in this field and who would be perfect for a position there. In this way the woman would be obligated to the Mafia (they had found her a job), and the restaurateur would be under obligation for being recommended a good worker. But when these mafiosi asked that the pizzo be paid, the owner of the restaurant refused and, instead, reported them to the police.

15

Saying no to the Mafia

Excerpt from the film Scorched Earth.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777361554

  • 9 Vincenzo Desiderio 2020 Private conversation

16There are many different reasons why otherwise honest people may associate with the Mafia, and in all cases the individuals usually have a choice. They may use legitimate channels to acquire what they need but this may be slow because of the bureaucracy involved, as well as costing them money, with the end result uncertain. Or they may turn to the Mafia which may be quicker, cheaper and more efficient, however not only is it risky because it is illegal, but it also creates a debt with the Mafia that may or may not eventually be called in9.

17The Mafia can therefore be seen as a web that interweaves with the network of the state, and like the state it enforces its demands within the community through the use of intimidation, supported by the threat of violence. The difference is that the state’s enforcement and violence (which once included capital punishment) is declared legitimate and transparent, whereas the Mafia’s is illegal and shady, but how ordinary Sicilians may see this can, at times, differ.

18An example of Mafia enforcement was given to me by a plumber in Castellammare who could no longer pay the exorbitant interest on a loan made to him by the Mafia, so rather than giving them his house, he reported them to the Police. The Mafia retaliated in a brutal manner. by ensuring that no one in the town would give him work, not even the Church which hitherto had always employed him. This man, before he had got into debt, had always refused to have anything to do with the Mafia which included paying the pizzo, but had he done so he believes they would have found him well-paid work when he fell out with the comune so that he would never have fallen into debt in the first place. (Scorched Earth)

19I filmed a number of testimonies of this nature, and what they all have in common is that the moment they reported their extortioners to the police, the town turned its back on them and gave them no support at all.

20Because the Mafia administers its own “system of justice" they did not normally resort to the State Judiciary, though there are indications that this too may be changing. For instance, when Rino Giacalone, an outspoken anti-mafia journalist who is also a member of the association Lìbera, described a Mafia boss who had just died as being a pezzo di merda – a piece of shit - the boss's widow responded in an unexpected way.

21In publicly insulting this boss's image, Giacalone had gravely insulted this man's memory, so diminishing his image and standing, and a reaction was therefore required on the part of the Mafia. It would normally have sought to eliminate such an outspoken journalist either by convincingly discrediting him or, if absolutely necessary, killing him. Instead, and surprisingly, the widow turned to the law and accused Giacalone of defamation. The case went through three trials. The first, in Trapani, found it legitimate for the journalist to use the description pezzo di merda, the second trial over-turned the first verdict and found Giacalone guilty of defamation, only for the court of appeal to find him not guilty. (A Wind of Change)

22Inevitably, precise statistics are unavailable for this social consensus, but these testimonies and others too reveal the way in which most ordinary Sicilians are complicit with the Mafia when they refuse to support its victims, either because they believe in omertà, or simply because they are afraid. It is telling that in a controlled experiment with people who were subscribed to Addio Pizzo, it was found that "fear, imagination, worry, and dreams were quite similar with those who had received intimidations and menaces, and those who had not". (Lo Verso 2019:21)

  • 10 Antonino Giorgi, Università Catolica Brescia

23Consensus also revealed itself in another way. During the year that I worked with Lìbera in the province of Trapani, it came under unprecedented and continuous attack from the media, not only the media that is said to be sympathetic to the Mafia, but also elements of the anti-mafia itself. To give support to the activists in Marsala, Ingui organised a therapy session with a psychologist who is specialised in Mafia and mafia-victim mentality10. It emerged that all those present felt they had suffered some degree of hostility towards their anti-mafia activities from the outside world, which included local politicians as well as colleagues at work. (A Wind of Change)

24

Selecting town councillors

Excerpt from the film A Town in Sicily.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777396090

Cultural Embeddedness

In appropriate circumstances appeals to honour, the justification of behaviour in terms of honour, and attempts to deprive others of their honour are means of acquiring power and wealth. ... honour may inspire a man to do things that are disapproved by the dominant sectors of society. (Davis 1969:69)

25As can be understood from the discussion on social consensus, one of the big problems in the struggle against the Mafia is that, in the minds of the majority of Sicilians in Castellammare at least, the boundaries between what is legal, what is illegal, and what is only mildly and so perhaps acceptably illegal, are sometimes blurred. But when it comes to the sector, or milieu of the socially and economically disadvantaged, the boundaries come close to dissolving altogether, This is due to cultural embeddedness. Because of this, and also because doing odd jobs for the Mafia may be the only work they can easily get in such generally culturally impoverished areas, the anti-mafia association Lìbera pays particular attention to the disadvantaged who are seen as being especially vulnerable. Because of Lìbera's concern, the Italian Ministry of Justice now works in collaboration with the association in the rehabilitation of young offenders, many of them from such disadvantaged areas.

26The values found in those living in such areas, but particularly amongst the men, are close to those of the so-called Mafia code of 'Honour', though in fact each 'group' adheres to these similar values for different reasons. But it is, in fact, those of the disadvantaged men, and not of mafiosi, that are closest to what we know as the ancient Mediterranean values of 'Honour and Shame' - a system that is largely based on values of Mediterranean masculinity. But as I shall demonstrate, in the case of the Mafia these old and antique values have been distorted - or rather adapted to suit the Mafia organisation's own requirements.

27Much of this information is generally known, so what it interesting is the comparison of values between mafiosi and disadvantaged.

Masculinity

28My own research in the values of Sicilian masculinity as practiced by a group of disadvantaged men was largely done with Sicilian criminals in Florence. At the time of my Florence research I was confused by the similarity of their values to those of the Mafia 'code', and it made me wonder, however unlikely this seemed, whether these men were not in fact mafiosi rather than ordinary criminals who, in one way or another, were undoubtedly sometimes associated with the Mafia. This confusion remained until I started working with anti-mafia activists in Sicily.

  • 11 In the sixties the education in these areas was poor, and kids left school aged fourteen. Today sch (...)

29Salvatore Ingui, leader of Lìbera in the province of Trapani, worked professionally as a social worker for the Ministry of Justice with kids in rehabilitation, who themselves were usually from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was from him that I learned these old values were particularly adhered to by men in disadvantaged areas, such as the modern and neglected suburbs of Sicily's larger towns. Today, as in the sixties, kids in these areas often leave school illiterate11 (I Ragazzi delle Piagge), they do not respect the police ("without his badge, what sort of 'man' would he be?"), and they hold even less trust in the State than wealthier middle-class Sicilians. So, instead, they look up to the Mafia.

30Ingui made this clear when, at a conference, he said he was struck by the way his kids in rehabilitation eulogise and mythologise the Mafia.

31

Ways in which the Mafia is seen and they see themselves

An excerpt of the film Wind of Change.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​773799799

32I shall now describe how the Mafia distorts and relies upon these values so that there are significant differences between them and the disadvantaged.

Respect

  • 12 Brøgger 1971

33The most important thing for both mafiosi and the disadvantaged, and still many Sicilians today, is the accumulation and maintenance of respect (the word that is normally used for honour in Sicily12). Respect should therefore be seen as a capital resource which one has to acquire, maintain and make use of wisely. In the old peasant economy to be respected was something positive and could help a man get work, because such a reputation meant he was serious, trustworthy and hardworking, and so someone to deal with. Originally this accumulation of respect was the indirect manifestation of a competition between men, the real underlying issue being a competition for scarce resources which, when it comes to work, still exists today.

  • 13 Man of Respect is written anonymously by a Sicilian mafioso.

34Within the Mafia, gaining respect is necessary if a man is to hold his own within the organization, as well as operate as a mafioso within the wider community: "... respect is the most precious thing in life. Women, money and health come and go; but respect once lost has gone for ever." (Anonymous 1991:13)13 What this anonymous mafioso does not say is that within the Mafia, respect is linked to fear, the more a man is feared the more he is respected and, to a lesser extent, this is also true of the disadvantaged.

  • 14 de Bromhead 1998

35Unlike with mafiosi, however, gaining respect and being feared among the disadvantaged is only useful within their own group, it sorts the men out into a loose hierarchy that operates in the streets and the bars. Accumulating respect in the way I describe is also one of the only means through which disadvantaged men may gain status and gratification. The degree of fear that some individuals may inspire gives the stronger men power over the weaker men but this, unlike with mafiosi, may not impress anyone outside their group, such as the middle-class with whom they may in some ways interreact.14

36Given that respect is ephemeral and fragile, the stronger a man the less he can permit any slight that may diminish him, however small and unintended it may be. The perpetrator has to be dealt with immediately, though in what way depends on the nature and degree of the slight, as well as on the situation and on the relationship between the men involved.

  • 15 Medieval Florentine Football was a game originally developed by the Romans to train their troops, a (...)

37I frequently observed this in the behaviour of men in Borgo Allegri, the street where I researched in Florence, and also among those of the men who played Florentine Medieval football.15 The players of Medieval football trained two evenings a week as well as Saturday afternoons, and after training they came together at their club and enjoyed a dinner that was prepared specially for them. It was at the bar when one of the younger players, having drunk too much, taken drugs or both, began to make advances on me. Nicola (a strong man) had to react because he was being insulted by this young player in public:

38

Dealing with lack of respect

An excerpt of the film Pawns in a Game.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777483129

39On quite another scale, Maniaci (local anti-mafia television journalist) publicly mocks the Mafia when broadcasting on his local community TV station. The Mafia been given him many warnings such as slashing his tyres, burning his car, and even trying to strangle him, and as a result he now has a permanent police escort. An example of how Maniaci belittles the Mafia is found in a scene in which he insults Castelvetrano's notorious fugitive boss very publicly indeed, so offending his dignity and his masculinity:

40

Pino Maniaci insulting a fugitive Mafia Boss
Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777360126

Omertà

41Omertà is a concept that still has meaning for many ordinary Sicilians, be it through belief in this value, thinking it right to mind one's own business, or simply from fear. The Mafia has an interest in maintaining this situation as it protects them from being reported to the police and in Castellammare it clearly still functions.

42Within the Mafia adherence to omertà is considered to be essential as a quality of manhood. Through giving primary importance to this value the organisation protects itself from disloyalty and lack of discretion among its own members even though, when under threat from within the organisation, mafiosi do collaborate with the police and talk.

43Among the disadvantaged respecting omertà is also an important value for successful masculinity, though more as a measure of manhood rather than having practical use - unless they commit some crime when it may protect them.

44During my research in Florence I was at first surprised that the dominant man, Nicola, had an evidently weak man (Stefano) as a close friend. I came to realise, however, that there was considerable flexibility within their system of 'honour and shame', so enabling it to function in a situation where most men would otherwise be failures.

45Thus while most men in this milieu would be considered weak (or a failure) in some aspects, they were able to redeem themselves through other aspects in which they were more successful. So while Stefano was unable to control his wife who dealt in and took drugs alongside her son, he had vindicated himself in the eyes of other men through omertà. When in prison he had witnessed a murder but he refused to say anything to the authorities, even though his sentence was extended by ten years as a result. For this Stefano was hugely respected and it maintained his position in the hierarchy of men and so enabled him to be Nicola's friend. He was considered to be a man of valore - value.

The Family

46The family as an economic unit still has an important role within Sicilian society and economy, although this is a situation that is gradually changing. Loyalty to the nuclear and extended families is still a significant value therefore, to the extent that during the campaign for the local elections in Catellammare this potential conflict of loyalties sometimes came up: "... the closer we come to voting, the more tense things become. Tension among the candidates because the cousin is voting... but the uncle had promised... but then this happened, and that happened... and usually unpleasant things happen." (a mayoral candidate in A Town in Sicily)

  • 16 Cortile Cascine, a film about a Palermo slum in the sixties, shows unemployed men, and so failures (...)

47As in other Sicilian social milieus, the blood family is honoured among the disadvantaged, and whereas it is perfectly acceptable for women to work (as was always the case in peasant culture), men still accepted the ideal of being their family's chief provider. To succeed in this gave them considerable status. Failure, however, is frequent among the disadvantaged because they are seldom in a position to earn enough, or in a sufficiently consistent way, so leaving the wife as primary bread winner.16

48Mafiosi, however, are in the anomalous position of having to honour two families, their blood one and their fictitious one. Unlike the Calabrian 'Ndranghetta, a Cosa Nostra mafia 'family' or cosca is not necessarily based on a blood family, though some families have a tradition of being mafioso. Considerable symbolic weight is given to the cosca by using the ideology of the family, and so a mafioso's ties to it. This fictitious family is prioritised over the blood family, thus a mafioso's first loyalty must go to his cosca, despite this sometimes creating uncomfortable situations.

  • 17 This is Banfield's (1958) concept of the family being centered entirely on itself at the expense of (...)

49Once again this unusual priority, this distortion of a deep-rooted Sicilian value, has to do with protecting the organisation. Interestingly anti-mafia activists talk about 'amoral familism'17 in terms of the Mafia as opposed to ordinary Sicilian families. According to Joe Bonano the Mafia can compromise everything except the sacred trilogy of "family, religion, attachment to Sicily". (Cavadi 2009:41)

Work

50For most Sicilians there is dignity in working well and earning money to maintain the family. To have the reputation of being a serious man and a good worker enabled men in the peasant economy to find jobs more easily, and this is still true today. When I passed my neighbour, a builder put on traffic duty when they were doing works on a small local road, I grinned and waved inanely. Although there was no other traffic, he only acknowledged me with a tiny nod, and neither smiled nor waved back. When I saw him later I commented on this. He gravely explained that traffic duty was a serious job, if you did it badly you could cause an accident, and so it would be inappropriate to be distracted by anyone, be they friend or family, or a neighbour like me. Throughout my research I found this attitude towards work, whatever that work might be.

51For Nicola, who liked to enjoy himself, fun stopped with work. He had to be serious, and he had to be taken seriously so that for me to be there, even if filming, was problematic. In the following scene there is a curious dynamic between Nicola and his two workers, both of whom were friends - one of them being Stefano. Because Nicola took work seriously, he was compelled to humiliate the second worker in front of the camera. He then looked for confirmation from Stefano. Stefano gives it (as is expected of him), but escapes quickly because the plasterer is not only his friend but lives in the same street. Stefano, a weak man (as has been described), had learned to be the ultimate diplomat:

52

The gravitas of work

An excerpt of the film Pawns in a Game.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​773806404

  • 18 According to Ben-Yehoyada, some say this is changing now and money is becoming more important - tha (...)

53Here, too, mafiosi distort these old Sicilian values as they gain no dignity or status through work. For them to have money without being seen to work for it carries its own prestige, possibly a value they picked up from aristocrats in earlier times, for whom they were originally estate managers. Nor is money in itself the primary objective in Mafia business, rather it remains "subordinate to the principle end of gaining power". (Cavadi 2009:20)18

Women

54In the past most Sicilian women were limited to the private domain: the family, the home and the family enterprise, and it was for the men to ensure their women always behaved in an appropriate way so that they did not shame their men and family, so causing them to lose respect in the public arena.

55

On male-female relations

An excerpt of the film Pawns in a Game.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777358598

56Although the situation has changed, there are still some points of interest in the two groups I am dealing with here.

57If a married Sicilian from a disadvantaged background is able to afford a mistress or have girl-friends outside his marriage, and provided he is suitably discrete, then there is prestige attached to the situation, at least in the eyes of men outside the family but within his community. However, if he is unable to afford such a divertimento - amusement - he would be seen as scemo - stupid, lacking in judgement and respect for his wife, and also in his duty to his family. What is in play here is a potential conflict between two sources of prestige - to be able to maintain your family and to be able to afford a woman. Should such a conflict arise, then having a mistress will lose a man prestige rather than supply it.

58Within the Mafia, however, even though they may be able to afford them, mistresses are actively discouraged, and 'looking' at the wives of other mafiosi is forbidden. Given that keeping a mistress may give prestige to men throughout Sicilian society, this may seem unexpected but, yet again, it has to do with the welfare of the organisation over that of its individual members. Other women may cause jealousies and disloyalty within their blood family as well as in the fictitious family, and this can lead to indiscretions and betrayals that may harm the organisation. As such this represents another inversion of the Sicilian values of masculinity.

Power

59As has been said, the Mafia's dominant interest is power. There are several areas in which mafiosi may wish to exercise it, within their local community and in relation to corrupt politicians and other representatives of the State. For mafiosi power is useful to their organisation as well as within their community because it commands respect.

60On the other hand, the disadvantaged are only in a position to gain respect occasionally and in a limited way, and when they do so it is only likely to be achieved within their group and not in relation to the wider community. Most usually their only source of respect is though their adherence to, and expression of, their shared values of manhood, and even this is often difficult for them obtain, and even more difficult to sustain. Yet it remains important to them as it is almost their sole source of identity and status, at least within their group. Unlike the Mafia, but similar to most ordinary Sicilians, for them money is more important than power precisely because they lack it but need it - just for everyday survival. Acquiring it and using it well may also bring them respect (whether it is ill-gotten or not), such as buying a vehicle which may help them get work, as was the case for Stefano when, with great pride, he managed to buy a small three-wheeled ape-truck. (My Eyes as a Stranger, Pawns in a Game)

61If, however, their families suffer from unnecessary expenditures these men will lose respect, and be seen as scemo (stupid) instead. When Nicola won on the horses he offered lunch to his street friends. He gained prestige from doing this because the money had been an unexpected surplus, but also because he let it be known that he had kept back a fair amount for his family. On the other hand he did not gain quite the prestige he wished for because, other than Stefano and I, only one person accepted his invitation to lunch rather than the half a dozen he had invited. The meal begins with Nicola on the phone trying to find more guests.

62

Trying to gain status

An excerpt of the film Pawns in a Game.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777578138

63Mafiosi also make use of conspicuous hospitality as a way of expressing and affirming their status. A builder I know in Sicily was invited to the wedding of a local Mafia boss’s daughter. Afterwards he talked about the wedding meal with some awe, recounting how the boss had filled his swimming pool with live lobsters. Among some people, at least, this small-time builder had gained in prestige for having attended such a wedding meal, and so the boss's prestige spread out to benefit those who had been invited and were present.

Violence

64Resort to violence is important to both the Mafia and the disadvantaged, and it is seen as being legitimate and also, sometimes, necessary.

65This is particularly true for the Mafia which does not usually recognise the State's system of law and justice. However, its use of violence is controlled, it has to be sanctioned by the cosca, and it is only used as an ultimate resource. They prefer to depend on it as a threat that's there and can be used if necessary, so as to create fear of the organisation, and thus maintain its system and authority on its territory. It does not add prestige to any individual who uses it because the man who delivers it is merely acting as an authorised arm of the Mafia.

66Violence among disadvantaged men, however, is less controlled and more often spontaneous such as when a fight may break out. The exception is in situations of vendetta, when reprisal is likely to be considered and calculated. For them the more measured violence of the vendetta is still perceived as being a necessary part of their social system, used to regain or retain respect in a situation where they lack the means or resources which would enable them to turn to the law - which they have no reason to trust anyway.

67Both physical strength (probably because most of them are manual workers) and the use of violence may also add to a man's status in this milieu, though I never saw any of the Sicilians in Florence use violence in the street. Instead I witnessed vendettas being played out in a very different and even more public way.

68I followed Florentine medieval football through a year because a number of men from Borgo Allegri, including Nicola, played this game. It is violent - part football, part rugby, and part wrestling. In June the four teams play against each other through three matches held in the Piazza di S. Croce, in front of the famous church. Nearly all the players come from the disadvantaged suburbs, many of them meridionali (Southern Italians), and this game provides a controlled outlet for their violence in a situation in which physical strength and skills are appreciated.

69The annual tournament is often problematic, however, and men use it to play out vendettas that belonged to the street because they can do so with impunity within this context, without it apparently contravening the law. The year I was researching, however, the police heard of threats that were being made against different players, and one of them specifically mentioned Nicola's friend, Pussi. The police therefore sent warning messages to the different teams and the Prefect of Tuscany came in person to meet each team, admonishing the players to stick to the rule and avoid any incidents.

  • 19 Whereas it might be hard to prove that breaking a knee was deliberate, bringing a file onto the pit (...)

70As it turned out if was said to be the worst ever year for violence. A player from the opposite side trample a player's knee and caused it multiple fractures. Another player from the opposing side managed to slip a chisel onto the pitch and attempted to gauge out Pussi's eye with it. Nicola himself was severely beaten up by three players who went for him at the beginning of the game, though Nicola was later criticised for having brought this on himself, having stepped forward before the starter-whistle blew. But the attack was so vicious that one could only assume it was personal. Nicola ended up in hospital with three broken ribs and a punctured lung. All three incidents were certainly vendettas being played out in, and permitted by the tournament.19

71

Nicola match

An excerpt of the film Pawns in a Game.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777357242

Changing the Humus

72This far I have largely focused on the mentalità, or the humus in which the Mafia is rooted and on which it depends for its survival in its present form. When social anti-mafia activists speak of a way of thinking that needs to be changed, this is what they are talking about, and also why they tend to say it is a process of re-education rather than straight-forward education: they are not simply instilling a set of values, they are attempting to change an existing one, which is arguably far more demanding.

73One of the difficulties is that such education is entirely voluntary at present, and therefore patchy. At the time of writing there is only a small budget available in schools for anti-mafia activities and teaching, but beyond that it is left to the teachers' discretion, there is no systematic or obligatory program. That said, there is an emphasis on civic education in Italian schools, and this refers to "that area of values and problems that essentially concern the dimension of citizenship, without forgetting its connections with the ethical, civil, social and economic issues relating to the individual and the worker." (Gunnarson 2008:83)

74It is therefore largely left to the social anti-mafia activists to do the work of re-education, all of them volunteers, and again it is left to the different associations and individuals to decide what should be done, how and when. Events organised by activists are imaginative and varied, and often colourful, but one consistent theme throughout is the commemoration of innocent victims of the Mafia. There are two levels in this, and although all commemorations offer opportunities for education there are the high-profile names and the smaller more local names that may not be known outside their home town. So these two groups offer different possibilities, with the high-profile names being celebrated with larger public events.

75The list of eminent names includes Prefect of Palermo Carlo Alberto della Chiesa (d1982); Judge-magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino (d1992); journalist Giuseppe Impastato (d1978); politician and President of Sicily Piersanti Mattarella (d1980). Not only these commemorations may be funded by the State, but representatives of the State (national or local) may also attend.

76On the 20th anniversary of Piersanti Mattarella's death (brother of Italy's President) there was an important commemoration in Castellammare, his home town, which stimulated an interesting initiative. The event was held in the town-hall, which was packed, and following the usual speeches a film about Mattarella was shown. This had been made by these school kids with the help of a local filmmaker. As they used archive footage of the murder, the film was powerful and everyone in the audience was moved. But above all what the class will have learned through the process of putting this film together would not only have been intellectual but also emotional, and so the murder of Mattarella will have come alive for the kids involved.

77The lesser-known martyrs may not be known outside their home-town, and even then were it not for the work of some local anti-mafia activists they might be forgotten altogether. An example of this concerns a forestry worker called Gaspare Palmieri, who had no association with the Mafia but was caught in their cross-fire in Castellammare del Golfo in 1991.

78An individual initiative concerning Palmieri was organised in a Castellammarese social centre (a villa confiscated from a mafioso) that is run by the association Castello Libero. Domenico Grassa, a young lawyer and member of Lìbera, devised a four-month course (one session a week) for fifteen- year old kids, all from one school but from different backgrounds. The purpose of the course was for the kids to learn about Gaspere Palmeri.

79In this course Grassa invites the kids to write an imaginary letter that might have been written by the young forester himself, telling people about his hopes and aspirations before his life was cut short. This 'letter' was illustrated with copies of old photographs given to the project by the Palmeri family. By being invited to step into Gaspare's shoes and writing his thoughts, the kids were encouraged to imagine his feelings so that they came to emphasise with the victim and the hurt done to his family. By the end he was no longer just a name for them but had become a part of their consciousness. When completed, this imaginary letter was stuck onto a series of boards which were hung from olive trees in a space where participants of the Lìbera' summer workshops pitched their tents. This further extended the project's life.

80

An educative session with young people

An excerpt of the film Casa Nostra.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​774169888

81The most significant of the many commemorations, however, remembers all innocent victims of the Mafia and is organised by Lìbera. It takes place on March 21st in different towns throughout Sicily as well as many other places in Italy. They would like this day to be officially recognised and be adopted as their 'Holocaust' day.

82In the run-up to March 21st, activists visit schools and prepare kids for this important day. In his session with a class of Trapani kids, Salvatore Ingui took an ex young offender with him and invited him to talk about his experience with the law as he thought that a guy nearer to the kids' age would make more impact. (Wind of Change) Ingui was also central to the Trapani memorial day.

83

March 21st - memorial day in Trapani

An excerpt of the film Wind of Change.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777353548

  • 20 Journalist Giacomo di Girolomo writes about this in his controversial book Contro l'antimafia

84As well as remembering Mafia victims on their different days, conferences are also organised through the year, such as the one shown in Wind of Change, called Who's Protecting Matteo Messina Denaro? But one of the criticisms levelled at the social anti-mafia and its work is that it does not reach new people - it does not make new converts, and it is always the same people that turn up at their various events.20 This may be true of adults, and probably inevitable because adults are less able or willing to change, but every year the activists are reaching another generation of children, and Sicily's greatest hope lies here.

85Activists are also very aware that changing a way of thinking cannot be done by citing laws and penal codes alone. Instead, as has been descibed, they seek to reach people at an emotional level as well as an intellectual level, and though this may sometimes seem tough, it is undoubtedly effective.

86To illustrate this, I am now citing a deeply moving but shocking afternoon when Ingui took a group of his kids in rehabilitation to visit the bunker where a twelve-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo was held and then killed. Giuseppe was originally kidnapped to stop his father, a mafioso himself, from turning State witness. They held the boy for two years during which time his guards never spoke a word to him, and then they strangled him, and his body was dissolved in acid.

87Ingui's kids first visited the minuscule and windowless under-ground bunker where the boy had last been kept and then murdered and, afterwards, they gathered in the garden where Ingui read from the court minutes of the subsequent trial, so using the testimony of one of Giuseppe's murderers. The horrific details given in the captors' own words make it disturbingly immediate.

88

Visiting Giuseppe de Matteo's bunker prison

An excerpt of the film Wind of Change.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​777579453

89This approach may seem unnecessarily tough, however making a child's suffering come alive to these remanded kids is an effective way of countering the values they've grown up with. It compels them to realise that the Mafia is truly bad, and not some Robin Hood association that did not harm children and women, and which took care of the community.

90Throughout my time with them, the social anti-mafia was continuously referring to the concept of 'capillary action' - a key concept that underlies all their work. I first came across it after the film was shown during the Piersanti Mattarella commemoration in Castellammare, when the journalist Pino Maniaci was interviewing the kids who had helped make the film. Maniaci tells the teacher that she has an important job to do in educating the kids about the Mafia. The teacher firmly replies that they cannot achieve this on their own, that there must be a process of capillary action. I gradually came to understand that by this they meant that to succeed there must be numerous interlinked 'cells', each one putting forward the same ideas, the same message, but from different situations and so points of view. Like these school children encounter this alternative vision for their society again and again and from many different sources, so that eventually it can be neither dismissed nor ignored. Moreover, in this way they are also supported by a dense network of these cells which together counter the old acceptance of unacceptable values and way of running their island.

91When I started the project I simply wanted to film different individuals and groups in their work against the Mafia as a way of learning about the Mafia - an otherwise difficult subject to approach. What I have achieved, however, is a replica of the situation on the ground - each of my films shows the work of a different cell, and the interested viewer can move between these cells/films in whichever way they wish, deliberate or through serendipity, in exactly the same way that people may encounter them in reality. And through these films the traveler or viewer may gradually build up a knowledge of this complex situation within themselves at an emotional (or sensual) as well as intellectual level. Moreover, they will see how the cells also interlink through different people who appear in different situations - for example in The Scream of Telejato the journalist Pino Maniaci is at the centre of this film, but he also pops up in other films, such as The Pizzo Season and A Town in Sicily. This strengthens the sense of the cells being interlinked.

92This process of re-education is slow, and it is too soon to evaluate the work being done by social anti-mafia activists at present. However, the Judiciary and the police are clear they cannot succeed in eliminating the Mafia in Sicily without this contribution from the voluntary sector. The police are successful in arresting Mafiosi just as the Judiciary is strong in handing out stiff sentences, but every Mafia boss removed is replaced by another, and the organisation continues functioning, adapting itself to changing circumstances and times. It is therefore vital that ordinary Sicilians start rejecting the old system that hosts the Mafia, even though they may still be suspicious of the state. Right now this effort is left entirely in the hands of teachers and voluntary activists, they are an essential element and yet they aren't paid for their time and are often resented by the wider population for their work.

93The Prefect for the province of Trapani expressed the situation powerfully at an event organised on land removed from the Mafia. There was a fierce sirocco blowing the day these fields were definitively confiscated by the court, and that night the ripe wheat in these fields was set alight by mafiosi. The following day Lìbera organised an event on this burnt land which activists attended, as well as BTrapani anti-mafia magistrate Piero Grillo and Prefect Leopoldo Falco.

94Out there, with a wind that made it difficult to hear or to breathe, speeches were made before the Prefect started up a harvester that was standing by, ready to save the wheat that had survived the fire.

95

The Prefect of Trapani on the subject of the social anti-mafia

An excerpt of the film Wind of Change.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​774175774

Conclusion

96My reason for writing this paper is to offer a context for my visual ethnography on the subject of Mafia values and social anti-mafia activism. Its chief aim, therefore, is to explain a way of thinking in Sicily that permits the Mafia to continue in its present form, the humus in which it is rooted and which the social anti-mafia activists are anxious to change - through example as well as a process of re-education. Although the focus of this paper is narrow, the entirety of the visual ethnography in Blurred Boundaries reveals much more, and we see activists involved in myriad different situations - not only seeking to re-educate Sicilians, but attacking institutions and criticising the State.

97Here, I have examined two of the more significant elements that make it difficult to eradicate the Mafia in Sicily, a set of values and pragmatic considerations that cannot simply be legislated against, which is why the situation requires a process of social re-education alongside the work of the police and the judiciary. These elements are those of social consensus and cultural embeddedness.

98Cultural embeddedness has to do with a set of values, some of which are said to be antique and often thought to be shared by all Sicilians though today this is no longer so. Today these values are mostly residual in the vast majority of the educated middle classes, although omertà and the family still do have significance. They remain, however, of particular importance for two groups - the first being the Mafia and the second being disadvantaged men. Among disadvantaged men the values are probably reasonably close to those held and had meaning in the old peasant economy, and are still adhered to by these men to fill a gap created by lack of education, lack of opportunity, lack of work, and a lack of status within the wider society. How well they put them into practice defines them as men in lieu of much else, and gives them a place within the loose hierarchy of men with whom they socialise in the street and in the bars.

99The Mafia, on the other hand, distorted and exploited these same original values to their own ends - to make their members feel important (men above men), to mystify ordinary people in the community and, most importantly, to help protect themselves and their association.

100Social consensus is something quite different, although it is shored up by the embedded value of omertà. It has more to do with practical considerations on the part of a wider population that turns to the Mafia system, directly or indirectly, for those things that it can offer because this is easier or more certain or, as in the case of money loans, because the banks will not help them. Indeed, as emerges in Scorched Earth, some bank managers may even be in collaboration with the Mafia. It is this acceptance of the Mafia as something useful that permits this humus to remain fertile.

101Although social consensus is supported by omertà, I would otherwise describe the situation as one of fluidity, one in which a majority negotiate their way through the options, their choices probably being dictated by pragmatism rather than by their values.

102The work of the voluntary sector is extraordinary, it is difficult to know how they keep going week after week, always with astonishing energy and imagination, and often within a rather hostile climate. Moreover it is not that they are underfunded, but they are not funded at all which, given their acknowledged importance in the struggle by representatives of the State, must sometimes be discouraging.

103I have said that it is difficult to assess their over-all effect as yet, but there are instances which do give us an occasional glimpse of what may be going on in term of the humus changing.

104During the local election in Castellammare del Golfo the PDL (Berlusconi), a party that was traditionally supported by the Mafia, was - as expected - strongly in the lead. A senior politician, D'Ali, representative of the province of Trapani and a senator in parliament, supported the local PDL party in its campaign, even though this man was being tried for Mafia association at the time.

105Lìbera, which is politically neutral, organised a public meeting in which the different mayoral candidates would answer questions put to them by a convener. The problem of the PDL being overtly associated with Senator D'Ali came up, and all the mayoral candidates turned on the PDL candidate, Russo, but his defense was unconvincing. The large hall was surprisingly but tellingly full, and bedlam broke out. Russo was seriously wounded through this confrontation, and the PDL dropped back, only coming third in the elections. This must be indicative of a shift, however small, in the town's attitude towards the Mafia.

106

Public meeting with Mayoral candidates

An excerpt of the film A Town in Sicily.

Credits : Toni de Bromhead

Video link: https://vimeo.com/​774178041

107Ultimately, however, the root cause of the difficult situation in Western Sicily is not only that of the Mafia in itself, but also a State that is insufficiently strong in places, with corrupt elements that provides sufficient space and opportunity for the Mafia to operate. It is in this sense that the State, for all its undoubted efforts and its many successes in the struggle against the Mafia, remains - if only in part - none the less complicit with it too.

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Bibliography

Books and articles

Anonymous. 1991. Man of Respect. London: Pan Books.

Banfield, Edward C. M. 1958. Moral Basis of a Backward Society. New York: Free Press

Brøgger, Jan. 1971. Montevarese: A Study of Peasant Society and Culture in Southern Italy. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget

Cavadi, Augusto. 2009. Il Dio dei mafiosi. Milano: San Paolo Edizioni.

Davis, J. 1969. Honour and Politics in Pisticci. Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland No.1969: 69-81

de Bromhead, Toni. 1998. Masculinity and Sexual Identity Among a Small Group of Petty Criminals in a Florentine Street. Ph.D thesis London University

Di Girolomo, Giacomo. 2016. Contro l'antimafia. Milano: il Saggiatore

Falcone, Giovanni and Marcelle Padovani. (1993). Men of Honour: The Truth About the Mafia. London: Time Warner Paperbacks

Giorgi, Antonio. (2019) Mai più nell'ombra. Vittime di mafia: dalla conoscenza all'intervento psicologico . Milano: FrancoAngeli.

Gunnarson, Carina. 2008. Cultural Warfare and Trust. Fighting the Mafia in Palermo. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Lo Verso, Girolamo. 2019. Introduzione. Mai piu nell'ombra. Antonino Giorgi, ed. Milano: FrancoAngeli.

Notari, G. 2010. Cultura in (s)vendita. L'associazionismo culturale palermitano tra innovazione e frammentazione. Milano: FrancoAngeli

Santino, Umberto. 2015. Mafia and Antimafia. London, New York: I.B.Tauris

Sicily, Sicilians and the social anti-mafia

Films by Toni de Bromhead

de Bromhead, Toni. 1992. The Kids of the Piagge (I Ragazzi delle Piagge) Segesta Productions 39 mins.

An ethnographic study that shows the difficulties in educating disadvantaged kids in a deprived suburb of Florence where there is a large population of Sicilians. https://vimeo.com/382301726 (accessed 18 December 2020).

de Bromhead, Toni. 1996. My Eyes As a Stranger ARTE Fr. 52 mins.

A television film about Sicilian criminals in a Florentine street, and their values of masculinity. https://vimeo.com/221622344 (accessed 18 December 2020).

de Bromhead, Toni. 2013. The Scream of Telejato Segesta Productions 60 mins

A documentary film about a maverick community television journalist who uses his broadcasts to speak out against and mock the Mafia. This also provides a useful background on Sicily's Mafia history. https://vimeo.com/51350196 (accessed 18 December 2020).

de Bromhead, Toni. 2015. A Town in Sicily Segesta Productions 124 mins.

An ethnographic film that reveals something about a small town's relationship with the Mafia through a local election campaign. The film follows a newly formed group of young people who want to clean out the Mafia from their local government. https://vimeo.com/347912145 (accessed 18 December 2020).

de Bromhead, Toni. 2016. Pawns in a Game Segesta Productions 123 mins. Shot in 1994-95.

An ethnographic film that reveals Sicilian criminals playing out their values of masculinity in a Florentine street and at Medieval Florentine football. These masculine values are those of the Mediterranean Honour and Shame. https://vimeo.com/349009291 (accessed 18 December 2020).

de Bromhead, Toni. 2017. Scorched Earth Segesta Productions 43 mins.

Through their testimonies, four men recount the harrowing experiences they go through when they decide to no longer pay their local Mafia either the pizzo (protection money) or repay Mafia loans with their exorbitant compound interest. These testimonies also reveal something about this town's attitude towards the Mafia. https://vimeo.com/354095138 (accessed 18 December 2020).

de Bromhead, Toni. 2018. A Wind of Change Segesta Productions 70 mins.

An ethnographic film that follows the anti-mafia association Libera over the course of a year, beginning with the olive season and ending with the corn harvest. It is a year when Libera is being heavily criticised by both local and national media, and this becomes the backdrop to the many events that are organised by the association - from reminding the general population of the many horrors perpetuated by the Mafia through the commemoration of innocent victims of the Mafia, to the education of the young in general and the disadvantaged in particular. https://vimeo.com/330212708 (accessed 18 December 2020).

All these and other Sicilian films made by Toni de Bromhead can be found on https://www.tonidebromhead.uk/ (accessed 20.11.2022)

Films

Young, Robert M. and Michael Roehmer. 1962. Cortile Cascino. 45 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3ZOJeQwPJc (accessed 18 December 2020).

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Notes

1 For Lo Verso there are only three real mafia associations, Cosa Nostra, the 'Ndrangheta, and the Albanian Casalesi. Others, for instance the Camorra, is ordinary criminality of mafia stamp. (Giorgi 2019:19)

2 When I am specifically referring to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, I use Mafia with a capital M. When I use the term generically, I write mafia with the small m.

3 This information is referred to or emerges in some way in these films - A Town in Sicily, A Wind of Change, and Scorched Earth. These references are not necessarily direct, but add to the reader's understanding in some significant way.

4 For a discussion on associations in Sicily see G. Notari Cultura in (s)vendita. L'associazionismo culturale palermitano tra innovazione e frammentazione. FrancoAngeli 2010

5 de Bromhead 1998 Ph.D. thesis Masculinity and Sexual Identity amongst a Small Group of Petty-Criminals in a Florentine Street

6 Vincenzo Desiderio 2020. Private conversation

7 Vincenzo Desiderio 2020. Private conversation

8 Salvatore Ingui. 2020. Private correspondence

9 Vincenzo Desiderio 2020 Private conversation

10 Antonino Giorgi, Università Catolica Brescia

11 In the sixties the education in these areas was poor, and kids left school aged fourteen. Today school leaving age is sixteen, and if they leave illiterate it is because they have not studied, often because they are not supported by their family.

12 Brøgger 1971

13 Man of Respect is written anonymously by a Sicilian mafioso.

14 de Bromhead 1998

15 Medieval Florentine Football was a game originally developed by the Romans to train their troops, and continued to be played by the Florentine aristocracy after the Romans left. It was resurrected by Mussolini and is now mainly played by disadvantaged men from the suburbs of Florence, though the aristocracy still participate in all the pageantry. (My Eyes As a Stranger and Pawns in a Game)

16 Cortile Cascine, a film about a Palermo slum in the sixties, shows unemployed men, and so failures in terms of providing for their families. As such one woman says "they are left empty inside".

17 This is Banfield's (1958) concept of the family being centered entirely on itself at the expense of all else and all others, so distorting the normal rules of modern civil society.

18 According to Ben-Yehoyada, some say this is changing now and money is becoming more important - that you can offend mafiosi but must not touch their money. (Private conversation)

19 Whereas it might be hard to prove that breaking a knee was deliberate, bringing a file onto the pitch was evidently premeditated, and using it was criminal. But this was an unusual occurrence.

20 Journalist Giacomo di Girolomo writes about this in his controversial book Contro l'antimafia

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References

Electronic reference

Toni de Bromhead, Blurred Boundaries: Sicilians and their MafiaAnthrovision [Online], 9.1 | 2021, Online since 30 November 2022, connection on 14 July 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/anthrovision/8697; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/anthrovision.8697

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About the author

Toni de Bromhead

Visiting Research Fellow, Goldsmiths, London University

tonidebromhead@yahoo.co.uk

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Copyright

The text and other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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