Corrado Alvaro and the Calabrian Mafia: a critical case study of the use of literary and journalistic texts in research on Italian organized crime

Amber Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The Calabrian mafia, or ’Ndrangheta, is a hugely powerful international crime syndicate, with origins that can be traced back to the late nineteenth century. By far the least studied of Italy’s ‘big three’ mafias, socio-historical research on the earlier stage of the organisation’s history has tended to make extensive use of literary and journalistic texts as source material (see Arlacchi (1983), Ciconte (1992), Paoli (2003)). This paper will present a cautionary example of the importance of interrogating literary and journalistic representations of Italian organized crime sensitively and within context, taking an article written by celebrated Calabrian writer Corrado Alvaro as a case study. It argues that academic perceptions of the early ’Ndrangheta are, through their reliance on cultural products, impacted by the narratives contained within such texts; a phenomenon which merits further investigation. Further, drawing on cultural memory studies, it argues that, while the accuracy of the representations of the ’Ndrangheta contained within these texts may be called into question, they do, through their ability to both reflect and shape public opinion, have a valuable contribution to make to our understanding of perceptions of Calabrian organized crime in its native region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-195
Number of pages17
JournalTrends in Organised Crime
Volume20
Issue number1-2
Early online date11 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Keywords

  • 'ndrangheta
  • mafia
  • organised crime
  • cultural memory
  • Calabria
  • press representations

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