Tag Archives: mafia

La ballata delle balàte in Australia


Vincenzo Pirrotta will shortly return to Australia to present his play La ballata delle balàte at the Street Theatre in Canberra on 5 April (7.30pm, registration here) and on 7-8 April at the Italian Forum in Leichhardt, Sydney  (7.30pm, registration here). On 6 April at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Sydney (6.00-9.00pm, registration here) Pirrotta will introduce and discuss the play.  La ballata delle balàte is a one-hour monologue in Sicilian dialect (English surtitles), written, interpreted and directed by Pirrotta accompanied by music by Giovanni Parrinello performed by Dario Sulis. The protagonist is a mafioso fugitive who in his hideout proclaims his faith in God while at the same time following the cruel logic of the mafia. The play offers a profound reflection on the relation between mafia and religious devotion with its staging marking the duality between sacred and profane (the blood of Christ and of mafia victims cohabit in the mafioso’s mind) and culminating in the adoration of a monstrance containing a characteristic form of mafia instruction (pizzzini).  The hideout becomes for the mafioso a kind of place of worship, made out of church candles, a table and two chairs, where he prays wearing a crown of thorns and a noose around his neck.  Continue reading

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Terra nostra

terra_nostra_cover_web_1024x1024In Terra Nostra the Palermo-born photographer Mimi Mollica explores the effects of the mafia on Sicily, documenting the damage it has inflicted on the physical and social landscape of the island and painting a dark picture of extortion, corruption and claustrophobia. The view is bleak, seedy and haunting, the violence itself mostly off-stage but its consequences, direct and indirect, all too visible. Mollica’s photo-essay is introduced by one of the island’s most active anti-mafia magistrates, Roberto Scarpinato.


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Renaissance credit/Mafia organisation

EUR55_02Full disclosure: there is no relation between the two topics in the title above except their appearance in the same recent issue of the Archives Européennes de Sociologie/European Journal of Sociology (2014, v.55, no.2). In ‘The circulation of interpersonal credit in Renaissance Florence’ Paul McLean and Neha Gondal analyze a large network of interpersonal credit ties among Renaissance Florentine élite households to determine how Florentine personal credit was organised. After examining participation by people from different categories (neighborhoods, factions, and guilds), they conclude that use of credit provided an important mechanism for confirming élite membership and solidarity. In ‘How Do Mafias Organise? Conflict and Violence in Three Mafia Organizations’ Maurizio Catino tracks the relationship between organisational structure and type of criminal behaviour in Cosa Nostra, Camorra, and ‘Ndrangheta. Using historical, judicial and statistical evidence, he shows how differences in the degree of organisational hierarchy produce differences in both levels and targets of violence.

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RISM: Sciascia and Robb – June 17


RISM and the Italian Cultural Institute invite you to a talk by Sabina Sestigiani:

 ‘Leonardo Sciascia and Peter Robb: a discordant view on the anti-mafia pool in Palermo in the 1980s

Date and time: Monday 17 June at 5.30 p.m.

Venue: Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Rd, South Yarra, Melbourne

Entry free

In this seminar, in English, Sabina Sestigiani (Swinburne University) will analyse Leonardo Sciascia’s sceptical opinions in regard to the anti-mafia pool in Palermo in the 1980s and Peter Robb’s portrayal of the mafia and anti-mafia phenomenon in his book Midnight in Sicily. She will also discuss the sensation caused in Italy by  Sciascia’s famous article “I professionisti dell’antimafia“, published in the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera in 1987.

For catering purposes book at:  bookings.iicmelbourne@esteri.it  Tel. 03 – 9866 5931

Please note: Cinema passes for the next Lavazza Italian Film Festival will be drawn for ICI Members who attend this event.

For more information on RISM contact Dr Patrizia Sambuco (Monash University)

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La legge è uguale per tutti…or is it?

Catherine Williams   La Trobe University

Upon hearing that Italy’s Constitutional Court has today released the reasons for its decision on the conflict between the powers of the President and the powers of Palermo’s Office of Public Prosecutions, the first thing that came to my mind was that comforting phrase inscribed on all Italian courts of law: ‘la legge è uguale per tutti’ (a maxim of such importance it is even given a constitutional guarantee in Article 3 of the Italian Constitution).

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The trattativa Stato-mafia: an introduction

Catherine Williams   La Trobe University

In the blistering Sicilian sun I sit, together with hundreds of students, awaiting the arrival of Antonio Ingroia who this morning* will participate in a public conversation as part of the Festival della Legalità (a week-long event held annually in Palermo). Behind me a group of boys scans the piazza and the palazzi towering above it for would-be assassins, keen to protect a man who has become, for many, a national hero.

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Catherine Williams   La Trobe University

We stop the car just before the Capaci exit from the highway leading towards Palermo. Ever since one of my former professors lent me a biography of Giovanni Falcone, at the beginning of my doctoral research in 2011, I had been determined that my next trip to Sicily would include a pilgrimage of sorts to this stretch of highway where Falcone, his wife (magistrate Francesca Morvillo), and three members of their security escort (Rocco Dicillo, Antonio Montinaro and Vito Schifani) lost their lives on 23 May 1992.  An interview in Palermo with Antonio Ingroia, to speak about the impacts of Law 45/2001 – which substantially amended the legal framework regulating the relationship between the state and mafia collaboratori di giustizia, and is the subject of my doctoral research – finally provides me with the opportunity I’d been waiting for.

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