DEAD SILENT: Life Stories of Girls and Women Killed by the Italian Mafias, 1878-2018
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
French, Italian and Comparative Literature Faculty
Libro on-line: dc.uwm.edu
The first history of its kind in English, this work reconstructs the life stories of over two-hundred girls and women who lived throughout the regions of Italy from 1878 to 2018, and were killed by members of the Italian mafia organizations, which include the camorra, Cosa Nostra, ’ndrangheta, and the United Sacred Crown. Each life history seeks first of all to identify the victim with her own name, and draw out the uniqueness and individuality of her life and history, as documented by scattered traces left in interviews, diaries, testimonies, newspaper archives, and Italian antimafia web sites. As revealed by their histories, many of the victims had no ties to the mafia, and were caught unawares, killed while occupied in common pastimes of daily life, while others died as punishment for breaking unwritten criminal laws dominating the diverse communities where they lived. Several lives chronicled here provide insights on both women who fought for freedom from the mafias and the right to truth and justice, and female victims of vendettas committed to settle scores between mafia men. While creating a space for their life stories in cultural memory, the resultant history of Italy documents the mafias’ systemic use of murder against women and young girls since the very beginnings of the criminal organizations. The victims’ lives and premature, traumatic deaths thus stand as strong evidence refuting the myths that the mafia does not harm women or children, or that the so-called old mafia protected them. Hot links enable readers to access a rich array of additional resources.
February 14, 2020
Robin Pickering-Iazzi’s Dead Silent: Life Stories of Girls and Women Killed by the Italian Mafias, 1878-2018 is the first history of its kind in English. An open access ebook, this study literally “unburies” the identities of over two-hundred girls and women who lived in Italy between 1878 and 2018, and were killed by members of the organized crime from different regions of Italy, including the camorra (Naples), Cosa Nostra (Sicily), ’ndrangheta (Calabria), and the United Sacred Crown (Puglia). By providing their background, the circumstances of their deaths, and the often unsatisfactory (if any) legal conclusions of their stories, this impressive counter-archive of the past raises several related questions on the women of Dead Silent. Some played a role within the clan, others were simply mafiosis’ daughters or wives, many had no relationship at all with the mafia and were killed accidentally, others were kidnapped for a ransom, and, finally, some were well known antimafia judges or journalists. How are the women’s individual stories related, as a whole, to the collective issue of the mafia in their communities? How do they become “bodies of evidence” and connect with the “history of the Italian nation”? In which ways does the form of the catalog, which Dead Silent adopts, replace the lack of commemoration and justice? But the most important issue that emerges concerns the study’s open access format: In addition to the broader circulation and availability (and the resulting security issues), what are the other positive effects that open-access can inherently produce? How does this format assert the scholar’s freedom and responsibility in the larger society?