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  • Discipline(s): History
  • Available: Spring Semester 2022
  • Course Type: Standard Courses
  • Taught in: English
  • Lab Fee: TBA
  • Credits: 3
  • Course Travel: TBA


Mafia and the Environment: The Fight Against Organized Crime

This course will investigate the history of the Sicilian Mafia from its roots as small local criminal bands rooted in a rural, agricultural environment through its development into a major global crime syndicate via its expansion into the urban US landscape. Special attention will be paid to how the environment and ecological corruption have historically been a foundation of the Mafia’s power and wealth.

The course is structured into three confluent parts:

  • a diachronic study of the Sicilian Mafia and United States’ Cosa nostra from the 1860s to present day (taking into special account Lucky Luciano’s role in fostering a collaboration between the United States and Italian factions)
  • an examination of the most important criminal investigations and trials as well as a study of the various attempts law enforcements on both sides of the ocean have made to collaborate and pass effective legislation to stem the expansion of organized crime (evaluating particularly the laws still most used today, such as the RICO act in the United States and similar laws in Italy)
  • a thematic study of the most significant environmental abuses tied to organized crime (the Sicilian Mafia as well as other Southern Italian crime syndicates) over the past decades: illegal constructions, alimentary fraud, illegal toxic waste disposal, the privatization of water and the mafia’s role in renewable energies.

This course does not significantly repeat material studied in Cosa nostra: Cinema of the (Anti)Mafia and taking both courses concurrently will provide a comprehensive overview of the issues surrounding organized criminality from a historical, sociological, and fictional/narrative/popular angle .