Sicilian Mafia

The Sicilian Mafia, also known as simply the Mafia and frequently referred to by members as Cosa Nostra (Italian pronunciation: , this thing of ours), is a criminal syndicate in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organisational structure and code of conduct. The basic group is known as a "family", "clan", or "cosca". Each family claims sovereignty over a territory, usually a town or village or a neighbourhood (borgata) of a larger city, in which it operates its rackets. Its members call themselves "men of honour", although the public often refers to them as "mafiosi". The Mafia's core activities are protection racketeering, the arbitration of disputes between criminals, and the organizing and oversight of illegal agreements and transactions.

Following waves of emigration, the Mafia has spread to other countries such as Canada and the United States.

The word mafia originated in Sicily. The Sicilian adjective mafiusu (in Italian: mafioso) roughly translates to mean "swagger," but can also be translated as "boldness, bravado". In reference to a man, mafiusu in 19th century Sicily was ambiguous, signifying a bully, arrogant but also fearless, enterprising and proud, according to scholar Diego Gambetta. In reference to a woman, however, the feminine-form adjective "mafiusa" means beautiful and attractive. The Sicilian word mafie refers to the caves near Trapani and Marsala, which were often used as hiding places for refugees and criminals.

Sicily was once an Islamic emirate, therefore mafia might have Arabic roots. Possible Arabic roots of the word include:

The public's association of the word with the criminal secret society was perhaps inspired by the 1863 play "I mafiusi di la Vicaria" ("The Mafiosi of the Vicaria") by Giuseppe Rizzotto and Gaetano Mosca. The words mafia and mafiusi are never mentioned in the play; they were probably put in the title to add a local flair. The play is about a Palermo prison gang with traits similar to the Mafia: a boss, an initiation ritual, and talk of "umirtà" (omertà or code of silence) and "pizzu" (a codeword for extortion money). The play had great success throughout Italy. Soon after, the use of the term "mafia" began appearing in the Italian state's early reports on the phenomenon. The word made its first official appearance in 1865 in a report by the prefect of Palermo Filippo Antonio Gualterio.

The term mafia has become a generic term for any organized criminal network with similar structure, methods, and interests. Giovanni Falcone, the anti-Mafia judge murdered by the Mafia in 1992, however, objected to the conflation of the term "Mafia" with organized crime in general:

This page was last edited on 15 June 2018, at 23:46 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosa_Nostra under CC BY-SA license.

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