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Tue, 17 Nov



The Development of a Mafia: A Case Study in Rome.

Speaker: Ilaria Meli, University of Milan

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Date & Location

17 Nov 2020, 16:00 – 17:00 GMT



The Development of a Mafia: A Case Study in Rome.

This paper aims at understanding the development of new mafias in an urban space. It analyses the historical and social factors that have facilitated the development of local mafias in the area of Ostia, a suburb of Rome. In Ostia, local mafias have shown the ability to reproduce a traditional entrenchment model (based on territorial control, fear, ‘omertà’, and social consensus). Underestimated for a long period, these groups have recently attracted more interest but empirical studies on the topic are still rare. The analysis identifies how mafia presence has evolved since its origin (in the 1960s), how the group has changed, and what are the opportunities offered by the context – not only the criminal scenario, but also the social, political and economic one – that allowed these local criminal organisations to increase its power, becoming a mafia. In particular, what seems to be crucial is the process of displacement and the urban planning policies with their consequences on the community. The research approach is mainly qualitative, based on interviews (citizens, politicians, organisations, bureaucrats) and a three-year ethnography of the neighbourhood. I also conducted documentary analysis using ‘grey materials’ such as local organisations (religious, volunteer and political associations, and antimafia groups) archives, local narratives and groups of historical inhabitants on social networks or in very small and resilient communities.

Ilaria Meli, University of Milan

Ilaria has a Ph.D in Applied Social Sciences from La Sapienza, the University of Rome. Her

work is focused on Italian mafias and, in the last years in particular, on the phenomenon of local

mafias in Rome. She is a research fellow and contract professor of Art, Culture and Organized

Crime at the University of Milan. She has been a Cross (Observatory on Organised Crime, University of Milan) member since 2014. She worked as a researcher in studies commissioned by the Italian Antimafia Parliament Commission and in the European project “Icaro - Instruments to remove confiscated asset recovery’s obstacles”.


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