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Reviewed by:
  • The Italian Antimafia, New Media, and the Culture of Legality ed. by Robin Pickering-Iazzi
  • Jane Schneider (bio)
Robin Pickering-Iazzi, ed. The Italian Antimafia, New Media, and the Culture of Legality. University of Toronto Press. x, 206. $32.95

The contributors to this volume are optimistic that social media can reinvigorate the struggle against Italy's mafias. Carla Bagnoli focuses on Libera, whose 1995 founding by Don Luigi Ciotti occurred amidst the distress over the 1992 assassinations of magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Libera, which has coordinated close to 1,600 anti-mafia associations, supports pedagogical projects and projects under the Rogoni-La Torre Law, which not only defines mafia criminality but also provides for the confiscation of mafia properties and their transformation to "socially useful" ends. The Libera website is a go-to place for these initiatives and for links to Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

The legacy of Giuseppe Fava, a courageous journalist assassinated by the mafia in 1983, is considered by Baris Cayli, who explores both Fava's writings and the sites that keep alive his ethical code of "truth, freedom, and justice." One such site is I Siciliani Giovani, an update of the newspaper, I Siciliani, that Fava founded. Another is Libera Informazione, a branch of Libera.

Paula Salvio takes on Libera Terra, which provides information about the agrarian cooperatives that occupy confiscated mafia lands, making produce, [End Page 218] especially wine, for "liberated" markets. Citing Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's theory of "the commons," Salvio analyses how social media connects today's co-ops with historical movements for land reform. In her conclusion, she asks whether Libera Terra's Facebook page, which is successful at public pedagogy, could challenge the bias towards heterosexual male martyrs and heroes in anti-mafia iconography. Significantly, women were active participants in Sicily's peasant uprisings from the 1890s Fasci Siciliani to the occupations of large estates following both world wars.

Inclusion is the leitmotif of Casamemoria Vittimemafia (House of Memory for the Victims of Mafia), discussed by Amy Boylan. An ecumenical "calendar of loss" cites the dates of mafia murders going back to 1861 and, unlike the mainstream media, includes persons caught up in the mafia system. Seven administrators update the site with articles about victims; they also edit posts and shape the overall membership. Do they also argue about ambiguous victimhood? When Salvo Lima, mafia-allied mayor of Palermo, was killed by the mafia in 1992, anti-mafia activists quarrelled over whether or not he was a "victim."

Giovanna Summerfield interviewed the architects of a YouTube initiative, "Per non Domenticare 23 Maggio," ("To Not Forget May 23rd," the day when Falcone, his wife, and his bodyguards were massacred). Digital storytelling underwrote their ability to attract high school and university students. Because "a picture is worth a thousand words," Summerfield cheers these architects' reliance on video technology.

The last chapters take us beyond Sicily. Dana Renga compares the offline and online treatment of the Banda della Magliana of Rome. Offline films and television series lead viewers to "identify and sympathize with members of the Magliana gang," whereas blogs, user comments, chat rooms, and hyper-mediated short films "create communal knowledge spaces" and foster "moral judgments." The difference reflects not only the voices of anti-mafia activists in the remediation but also the more democratic and interactive structure of online media. Angela Maiello explores a new turn in Neapolitan music – a successor to the Sceneggiata and Neo-melodica traditions that celebrated camorra culture. NuJournBuon (New Day Born) is an explicitly anti-mafia song that emerged from the city's slums. Incorporating rap, it attacks the camorra for burying the toxic waste of northern industries in the outskirts of Naples, making people sick. Thanks to a Facebook page, NuJournBuon has become an "antimafia anthem"; edited on Instagram, it erases the "distinction between producers and consumers." Karaoke videos, and the ludic practices of the composer, add to its viral energy.

Taken together, these informative chapters cohere; the authors cite each other often and agree that social media is a welcome technology for advancing anti-mafia sentiment. Salvio and Boylan do acknowledge that "slacktivism" – "web communication" that encourages...


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pp. 218-220
Launched on MUSE
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