Reflections on the Sicilian Mafia: Peripheries and Their Impact on Centres

  • Anton Blok
Part of the Studies in Organized Crime book series (SOOC, volume 7)

The term “mafia” comes originally from Sicily, where it refers to the private use of violence in public domains. Its etymology is controversial (Novacco, 1959). Whatever its feudal and patrimonial dispositions, mafia is a modern phenomenon: it developed in the slipstream of Italian unification when a modern state structure imposed itself on a predominantly agrarian society still largely feudal in its basic features. In the absence of effective central control over the means of violence, mafia took shape as an instrumentum regni of Italian politicians, who chose to rule Sicily through its dominant class of absentee landlords most of whom were residing in Palermo, long the centre of wealth and power of the island. (Incidentally, this may help explain why eastern Sicily always had a much lower density of mafia than the four western provinces, which formed the hinterland of the island’s capital.)


Organize Crime Italian State Peaceful Coexistence Agrarian Society Landless Peasant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anton Blok
    • 1
  1. 1.Cultural AnthropologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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