Through a series of lectures, readings, films, and documentaries, this course will examine the history of the Italian Mafia starting with the Unification of Italy up to the present. The approach will be both political-historical and sociological.
The course begins with an analysis of the roots of the Italian Mafia that lay within the over-reliance on codes of honor and on traditional family values as a resolution to all conflicts. The course begins in the Middle Ages with the control of agricultural estates by the Mafia, the exploitation of peasants, and the consequent migration of Sicilians towards the United States at the end of the 19th century.
The focus shifts onto the controversial relationship between the Mafia and the fascist state, and the decline of organized crime under fascism. During the Second World War the Mafia resurfaced after American and Allied forces landed in Sicily and freed many of the Mafiosi that had been imprisoned by the regime. Beginning in the late 50s the Mafia was centralized into one organization called Cosa Nostra that controlled the traffic of drugs from Sicily to the United States.
A discussion of the major protagonists in the fight against the Cosa Nostra, such as Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borselino, will be an integral part of this course. The course will end with a discussion of contemporary organized crime in Italy.