Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cosa Nostra as seen by FIX on Campus


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the criminal society. 

For other uses, see Mafia (disambiguation).

The Mafia (also known as Cosa Nostra) is a 

Sicilian criminal secret society which is 

believed to have first developed in the 

mid-19th century in Sicily. An offshoot

 emerged on the East Coast of the

 United States and in Australia[1] 

during the late 19th century 

following waves of Sicilian and 

Southern Italian emigration 

(see also Italian diaspora). 

In North America, the Mafia 

often refers to Italian organized 

crime in general, rather than

 just traditional Sicilian organized crime.

 According to historian Paolo Pezzino: 

"The Mafia is a kind of organized 

crime being active not only 

in several illegal fields, but 

also tending to exercise sovereignty

 functions – normally belonging to 

public authorities – over a specific 


The Sicilian Cosa Nostra is a loose 

confederation of about one hundred 

Mafia groups, also called cosche or 

families, each of which claims sovereignty 

over a territory, usually a town or village

 or a neighborhood of a larger city, though

 without ever fully conquering and

 legitimizing its monopoly of violence. 

For many years, the power apparatuses 

of the single families were the sole

 ruling bodies within the two associations, 

and they have remained the real centers

 of power even after superordinate bodies

 were created in the Cosa Nostra 

beginning in the late 1950s 

(the Sicilian Mafia Commission).[3]

Some observers have seen "mafia" 

as a set of attributes deeply rooted 

in popular culture, as a "way of being", 

as illustrated in the definition by 

the Sicilian ethnographer, Giuseppe Pitrè,

 at the end of the 19th century: 

"Mafia is the consciousness of one's 

own worth, the exaggerated concept 

of individual force as the sole arbiter

 of every conflict, of every clash of 

interests or ideas."[4]

Many Sicilians did not regard these

 men as criminals but as role models 

and protectors, given that the state 

appeared to offer no protection for 

the poor and weak. As late as the 1950s,

 the funeral epitaph of the legendary 

boss of Villalba, Calogero Vizzini, stated 

that "his 'mafia' was not criminal, 

but stood for respect of the law, defense 

of all rights, greatness of character. 

It was love." Here, "mafia" means 

something like pride, honour, or even 

social responsibility: an attitude, not an 

organization. Likewise, in 1925, 

the former Italian Prime Minister 

Vittorio Emanuele Orlando stated in 

the Italian senate that he was proud

 of being mafioso, because that word

 meant honourable, noble, generous.[5][6]

Cosa Nostra

Information about this organisation was last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2008.

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