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Social History of the Italian Mafia Business & Psychology Program Spring 2025 Semester - Rome

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Social History of the Italian Mafia

Social History of the Italian Mafia Course Overview


CEA CAPA Partner Institution: CEA CAPA Rome Center
Location: Rome, Italy
Primary Subject Area: History
Other Subject Area: Cultural Studies
Instruction in: English
Course Code: HIS341
Transcript Source: University of New Haven
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 45
Prerequisites: None. A basic knowledge of general Italian history is desirable.


'Mafia' is one of a long list of words - like 'pizza', 'spaghetti' and 'opera - that Italian has given to many other languages across the world. It is commonly applied to criminals far beyond Sicily and the United States, which are the places where the mafia in the strict sense is based. 'Mafia' has become an umbrella label for whole world panoply of gangs - Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Chechen, Albanian, Turkish, and so on - that have little or nothing to do with the Sicilian original.

This course is a social history of the mafia in Sicily. Some of the most famous American Mafiosi, men like Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, will also be taken into consideration because the history of the Sicilian mafia cannot be understood without telling the story of the American mafia to which it gave birth. It is only when viewed from the coast of a small, triangular island in the Mediterranean that the history of the mafia in the USA, at least in its early stages, can begin to make sense.

However, the history of the mafia cannot just be about the mafia, about the deeds of men of honor. Before Falcone and Borsellino, many other people died fighting the mafia. Some of them are characters in the drama. The mafia's story also embraces the people who, for a variety of motives ranging from rational fear, through political cynicism, to downright complicity, have favored the organization's cause.

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