- The Grecanici of Southern Italy. Governance, Violence, and Minority Politic by Stavroula Pipyrou
The Grecanici of Southern Italy. Governance, Violence, and Minority Politics by Stavroula Pipyrou is an interesting ethnography of the governance of the Grecanici minority in Reggio Calabria, on the toe of Italy. This minority had long been subject to national assimilatory policies and segregation and marginalization processes at a local level, but they have managed to invert hegemonic culture, promote self-governance and participate in the power games of minority politics on a local, national and international scale. The book demonstrates how this minority managed, and still manages, to cope with the potential violence associated to hegemonic powers through what the author conceptualizes as ‘fearless governance’.
Pipyrou’s purpose is to contribute theoretically and ethnographically to political anthropology studies and, in particular, to the study of minority politics. The author therefore uses the concept of ‘governance’ to widen the Foucauldian paradigm of ‘governmentality’. While the latter refers to the set of norms, ideas, practices, institutions that strengthen the power of the state in order to govern the conduct of others’ conduct, governance refers to a multi-dimensional vision of power that can be managed by social agents that are not only institutional. In this way, the state is considered as only one of the various agents active on the political scene: the Church, associations, family, criminal organizations are, in fact, other agents actively working in resource management and in decision making on several levels (local, national, international), with different capacities and through different power performances. The concept of ‘governance’ is used to overcome the exclusiveness of the concept of ‘government’, therefore, to widen the analysis of power relations by shifting focus from state ‘governmentality’ to the governance of other players. While governmentality constitutes the dominating scheme that produces governable subjects, governance includes many unexpected and unpredictable configurations and intersections of political action by non-institutional social agents. And, in fact, the ethnography on the Grecanici in Reggio Calabria shows many situation in which this minority is not ‘governed’ in a Foucauldian sense, but, on the contrary, has appropriated the available political and bureaucratic channels of governance, creatively operating between political and legal parameters. This study highlights the coexistence of forms of subjection and practices of domination alongside forms of subjectification and practices of liberation. Why then, does Pipyrou define the governance of the Grecanici in Reggio Calabria as ‘fearless’? The reason lies in the fact that this minority, while running the risk of incurring sanctions from state institutions, faces the potential danger and violence of hegemonic powers by navigating through multiple channels (including clientelism or illicit activities) to pursue power and political representation in order to govern their own affairs.
The book is well written and the arguments are convincing since they are based on a rich and diverse corpus of ethnographic data. Moreover, the bibliography cited in the text shows a wide knowledge of the international literature as well as an in-depth knowledge of the best recent anthropological productions in Italian.
The book is divided into chapters dedicated to various areas of Reggio Grecanici governance. Chapter 1 describes the theoretical and interpretive coordinates of the book, while chapter 2 presents a brief historic outline of the Grecanici presences in the Calabria region and especially in the city of Reggio Calabria. With chapter 3, the book jumps straight into a detailed ethnography of the governance of this minority in several fields of symbolic, social and political action. Chapter 3 deals with civil society organizations through a reconstruction of the history of Grecanic associazionismo which, starting from the 1960s, led to an intense alliance-building and negotiating policy aimed at juridical recognition with Italian and Greek States, European and international institutions, local and regional administrations. This policy was and is based on considerable relatedness within the group that is described in even more detail in chapters 4 and 5. The latters [End Page 115] deal with the construction and maintenance over time of the group's cohesion through...