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Mafia, Antimafia, and the Plural Cultures of Sicily Author(s): Jane Schneider and Peter Schneider Source: Current

Anthropology, Vol. 46, No. 4 (August/October 2005), pp. 501-520 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/431529 . Accessed: 09/05/2011 06:53
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C u r r e n t A n t h r o p o l o g y Volume 46, Number 4, August–October 2005
2005 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved 0011-3204/2005/4604-0001$10.00

ERIC R. WOLF LECTURE FOR 2004

Mafia, Antimafia, and the Plural Cultures of Sicily
1

cated at Antioch College (B.A., 1956) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1965). He has conducted research in Sicily since 1965 and is coauthor, with Jane Schneider, of Culture and Political Economy in Western Sicily (New York: Academic Press, 1976); Festival of the Poor: Fertility Decline and the Ideology of Class in Sicily (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996); and Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003). His present research interests concern organized crime and processes of criminalization. The present paper was submitted 25 i 05 and accepted 25 ii 05.

by Jane Schneider and Peter Schneider

Sicily has long been represented in literature and in historical and social science texts as a place that is burdened by cultural values and practices that resist modernity: clientelism and corruption, familism, patriarchy, and lack of trust are said to condemn the island to backwardness. Sicily’s association with the mafia adds a further negative image to these representations, an image of organized criminality that is conflated with Sicilian culture in general. Much as in the “Southern Question” discourse in Italy and similar constructions of otherness elsewhere, novelists, scholars, and public intellectuals present these characteristics as essential traits—as if there were a homogenized “Sicilian culture” that reproduced itself consistently through time. Eric R. Wolf was a brilliant critic of this way of thinking about culture, insisting, rather, that complex historical processes produce differentiated sociocultural forms over time in any given location. Inspired by his example, we trace the differentiated histories of the mafia and antimafia forms in Sicily, analyzing the contrasting values and practices that are specific to each. Our purpose is to represent Sicily as culturally plural and to generate a framework for recognizing and combating the all too common tendency to criminalize entire populations believed to have a common culture. j a n e s c h n e i d e r is Professor in the Ph.D. Program in Anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016-4309, U.S.A. [jschneider@gccuny. edu]). Born in 1938, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1965. She is the coeditor with Annette B. Weiner of Cloth and Human Experience (1987) and the author of several essays on cloth and clothing. Her anthropological field research has been in Sicily and has led to three books coauthored with Peter Schneider. In 1998 she edited Italy’s Southern Question: Orientalism in One Country, and in 2003 she edited, with Ida Susser, Wounded Cities: Destruction and Reconstruction in a Globalized World. Her current research interests concern crime and criminalization in global perspective. p e t e r s c h n e i d e r is Professor of Sociology at Fordham University, College at Lincoln Center. Born in 1933, he was edu1. This paper was delivered on October 11, 2004, in Vienna, Austria, under the sponsorship of a Wittgenstein Award to Andre Gingrich, ´ Austrian Academy of Sciences (2000), the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, and the International Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna.

From our graduate-school days, when we were students of Eric R. Wolf, we remember his appreciation of Anthony Wallace’s (1970) call to think about culture as “an organization of diversity” rather than “the replication of uniformity.” Wolf’s teacher Ruth Benedict had championed the “Culture and Personality” school, according to which whole societies—the Kwakiutl, the Zuni, the Dobu—and even whole nation-states—Japan or Russia— could be characterized by discrete clusters of culture traits reproduced through time by the psychological conditioning of children. Wolf’s discontent with Benedict’s cultural theory shaped his anthropological writings throughout his career. For example, his rethinking of the peasant concept in the 1950s hinged on a trenchant critique of Robert Redfield’s equating peasant culture with “folk society,” defined as value-saturated, timeless, and homogeneous (Wolf 1966; see Silverman 1979). In his extended essay Anthropology (1964) he explored the implications of Norbert Elias’s history of German society in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and in particular its unusually sharp division between bourgeoisie and aristocracy. The inward-looking bourgeois emphasized the uniqueness of their German spirit or “culture,” while the aristocrats preferred to celebrate their participation in a cosmopolitan, specifically French, “civilization.” In other words, culture served as a counter to the philosophes’ “march of reason”—an opposition that Franz Boas imported into American anthropology, where it found a special home among the psychologically oriented next generation of Boasians, especially Benedict. Wolf noted that the idea of culture as interior and “ours” came to the fore in Europe at a time when some European nations were contending for dominance while others were struggling to achieve separate identities and political independence. The proposition that each nation possessed a distinctive society, animated by a special geist, served to legitimate the aspirations of nations seeking to become states. Elites advancing this political project exploited the notion of discrete and integral cultures, each with its own emotional profile or identity. An ardent opponent of nationalism’s excesses, Wolf feared the misuse of a culture concept more attuned to emotion than to reason. In his major work Europe and the People Without History (1982), Wolf advocated locating all societies in “historically changing, imperfectly bounded, multiple and branching social alignments,” and he redefined culture as follows (p. 387): 501

reiterating the difficulties of an overly culturalist position. Although sharing anthropology’s inexorable romance with cultural variation—perhaps to a greater degree than in his previous works—Wolf nevertheless remains cautious. A culture is thus better seen as a series of processes that construct. we first outline the main social and cultural features of the Sicilian mafia and then review the construction of the myth of Sicily as a framework for interpreting its origins and tenacity. we will argue. Wolf’s last book (1999). named for the tightly bundled leaves of an artichoke. and concentrates on ideas without reference to the patterns of behavior that helped institutionalize these ideological forms. The nucleus of their organization is the localized fraternity or cosca (plural cosche). Far from assuming that custom maintains itself. Against the assumption that transformative social movements are alien to Sicily. as is suggested by the way he presents the French anthropologist of India. Artisans and their educated offspring energized both the peasant struggle for land reform of the 1950s and the antimafia campaigns of the 1980s and ’90s. cling to homegrown passions. Many Sicilians themselves subscribe to the same stereotype. through entrepreneurial coalitions that cut across several cosche and include many strategic outsiders. Envisioning Power. It is in the spirit of Wolf’s dual admonitions—to trace the institutionalization of ideas and to recognize alternative voices and traditions—that we offer our reflections on the mafia. to create wholly new forms to answer to changed circumstances. usually bearing the names of their rural towns or urban neighborhoods. in Envisioning Power. the mafia. arms. Guided by Wolf’s alternative approach to culture. The myth of Sicily. . to borrow forms more expressive of their interests. and it purports to account for Sicily’s notorious institution. Dumont had developed a compelling contrast between non-Western and Western ideological systems. To some extent. and homegrown pessimism about change. In fact. to impart new evaluations or valences to them. . their carefully cultivated political connections and capacity for violence give them considerable leverage in competing for access to and control over public goods. Meanwhile. At the same time. Since Italian Unification. traditions. in Wolf’s view. convicted. In this emphasis. labeling the contrast as one between homo hierarchicus and homo equalis.” but in fact such effects are never a foregone conclusion. The introduction traces the role of ideation in human interactions. giving it even greater weight. which continued into the twentieth century. Number 4. more or less outside of history. . takes up the issue once more. and cultural pluralism in Sicily. Dumont. cosca organization reflects kinship . although buffeted by foreign tides. Bourdieu. and Foucault to raise our awareness that processes of power underlie even the most taken-for-granted instances of shared cultural practice. The myth also furthers the mistaken assumption that Sicilian movements for social and political change—peasants’ struggles for land reform or. we must rather investigate the instrumental. we present evidence that nuclei of Sicilian modernity emerged during the same period not only in the cities but also in artisans’ workshops in the interior rural towns. more recently.502 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. . of a mafiafriendly cultural milieu and that other. with the requisite energies emerging from the turmoil of politics and war” (1999: 65). They must be “mobilized and reinforced to come to fruition. Working at the level of whole societies. “neglects alternative voices and traditions that competed with the exemplary protagonists . and ways of being automatically produce “sentiments of identity. is partly rooted in the state’s covert authorization of mafia violence. and dismantle cultural materials in response to identifiable determinants. and sentenced to jail. Each commonly extorts tribute (a “pizzo”) from businesses in its territory and demands that the territory’s employers hire mafia dependents. homegrown habits of crime and corruption. reconstruct. aversion to cultural others. groups are known to exploit the ambiguities of inherited forms. No less than the mafia. racialized past. organizational. in Sicily. the antimafia had genuine cultural roots in Sicily. love of country. social solidarity. Yet he continued to worry. The Sicilian Mafia: An Overview Sicilian mafiosi represent themselves as “men of honor” who solve problems (their own and others’) without resorting to state-established law. the antimafia. it encompasses Sicilians in their diaspora as well as at home. the next section will relate mafia development to agrarian capitalism and Italian state formation as they interacted in Sicily in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Louis Dumont. outside observers have represented Sicily as a timeless island whose inhabitants. mafiosi pursue more farflung activities from animal rustling to the commerce of contraband tobacco. . The resulting “myth of Sicily” evokes a primordial. Advocates of the culture concept tend to think that commonalities of language. Although inspiring many interesting studies. Anthropology has come a long way since the 1950s. ideal patterns of thought seem impelled by an internal logic of mind” (1999:59). and drugs. the urban movement against the mafia and political corruption—depend for their coherence on ideologies of modernity imported from outside. diverse strands of cultural production coexisted with this milieu—acknowledge Wolf’s persistent doubts about an essentialist totalizing conception of culture. we will argue. In this essay. Wolf appreciated the efforts of Gramsci. Both arguments—that state sponsorship was consequential for the hegemony. Mafia cosche are territorial. August–October 2005 In the rough and tumble of social interaction. the mafia has always been a predatory and criminal mutual-aid society that enforces loyalty and secrecy among its members and supports those who are arrested. that the idea of culture remained ripe for misuse. and ideological forces that underwrite the search for coherence and continuity.

Constructing the Myth of Sicily For many people. but there are notable cases of audacious upstarts’ seizing power. Pleased to host her husband’s friends. .” As his brothers receive instruction in becoming “men of honor. the movement conceptualized mafia women as victims. the mafia offers its members the privilege of exclusivity and belonging. young delinquents go out of their way to commit petty crimes in order to impress would-be mafioso sponsors. It is a complicated task to sketch the relationship of women to mafia organization. they have “breathed [that] air since they were born” (quoted in Arlacchi 1993:147). like rock stars looking up to Madonna” (quoted in Arlacchi 1993:130). . their sister publicly disowned them on behalf of herself and her parents: “We cannot open our shutters for the shame of it” (quoted in Jamieson 2000:230–31). an evocation of the presumed solidarity of kinship. The mafia also recruits nonkin. Not only does the mafia pass over inappropriate kin. “above” it. both insiders and outsiders. there to do small favors. as they consistently describe a ritual in which the novice holds the burning paper image of a saint while his sponsor pricks his finger and. a justice collaborator (pentito) in the antimafia trials of the mid-1980s. and she participates in preparing them for these futures (see Puglisi 1990. more recently. older brothers. horsing around. uncle to nephew. however. When the Di Filippo brothers became pentiti. were skeptical that initiation rituals existed. supposedly punishing men who “fool around” and caring for the “widows” and “orphans” of imprisoned members. 2000). In families where the father. the senior bosses monopolize the elected leadership positions. Women’s loyalty is evident in the vehement denunciations that some have leveled at close kin who decide to collaborate with prosecutors. indeed. the “soldiers. and godfathers are cosca members. Siebert 1994). in general. ourselves included. it is almost obligatory for up-and-coming boys to consider a criminal career. Her reciprocal involvements might extend to ensuring the safety and comfort of fugitives that her husband feels compelled to hide or acting as a courier of his messages from prison. A symbolically laden rite of entry and effort at lifelong socialization situates them “outside” normal society and. Palermo and its immediate hinterland have always been a center of gravity for the mafia and the locus for the establishment in 1957 of an admittedly fragile coordinating “commission” (Lupo 1984. Mafiosi also exploit the fictive kin tie of co-godparenthood. looks out for its members’ women. The various cosche. often naming each other as godfathers to their children. the myth of Sicily is a sufficient explanation for the origin of the mafia and its persistence. On the one hand. Generally. The Palermo-centered antimafia movement of the 1980s and ’90s was energized for the most part by middle-class citizens with high-school and often college educations. terms of address. In its early years. Mutual goodwill is further induced by idiosyncratic ways of speaking. The mafia. attributing accounts of them to the imaginations of prosecutors and journalists. cousins. Many of the important leaders were women. it is a metaphor. even homoerotic. for membership may be passed from father to son. in their view. they are habitually excluded from certain activities—not only meetings but events such as banquets and hunting parties in which masculine identity is asserted through men’s affectionate. for example. and it is an antimafia goal to transcend the patriarchal structures and practices of Sicilian society. tend to be autonomous of one another. although the term “family” is frequently applied to the cosca. 1990. Antonino Calderone. In the 1960s. persons to reach out to. On the other hand. uncles. and women’s exclusion from them may be fundamental to the bonding that takes place there. 1993). in Calderone’s words. Scholars in the 1960s. Various feminist groups continue to play a role. As might be imagined. Her sons will most likely join the company. to be put to the test . the cosca is structured internally along lines of age and privilege. put it this way: “Around every man of honor of a certain rank is always a circle of twenty or thirty kids—nobodies who want to become something . These events have implications for socializing novices into the practice of violence. with new recruits. deemed to be mafia-friendly. . her daughters will marry into it. has him swear an oath of lifelong loyalty to the sodality and silence before outsiders (Schneider and Schneider 2003:82–85).” being expected to take greater risks and receive lesser rewards. some cosche have rules against admitting too many kinsmen at a time. and linguistically playful nicknames.” he is allowed to go his own way (Schneider and Schneider 2003:88–92). . although mafiosi are in communication throughout the network. persons to condemn (Principato and Dino 1997). More to the point. Peter Schneider attended a series of banquets in which lavish multicourse meals prepared by the men were capped by an hour or more of carnivalesque entertainment that lampooned the Catholic Church and the absent sex (Schneider and Schneider 1984). the women of mafiosi are themselves from mafia families.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 503 organization. Such contradictions in the position of mafia women are reflected in the ambivalence toward them of antimafia activists. Beyond this. The depositions of the pentiti who are collaborating with the state have prompted a reassessment of this skepticism. believing that mafiosi seeking to induct more than one son or brother must be planning a grab for power within the cosca (see Paoli 1997. these women have been seen as complicit. All told. becoming a mafioso is also a matter of talent. a mafia wife also basks in the refinements that his money and status can provide and knowingly shelters his assets from the confiscatory power of the state. mixing the symbolically laden blood and ashes. Sometimes a mafioso’s son lacks the fegato or guts for “criminal reliability. Yet. present in most of the rural towns and urban centers of western Sicily. .

and cult of personal possessions—all responses to pervasive insecurity (1961: 22–26). which likened Sicilian peasants to the “savages” of North America. together with “all those rulers who landed by main force from all directions. he shifts the focus to the climate and landscape. Attributing the gap to a compromised biology. a man whose contribution to science would serve the newly unified nation. never relaxed. contrasts his own authoritarian temperament. making the wound their own. and excellence of its kind . “Our sensuality is a hankering for oblivion. “it doesn’t matter about doing things well or badly. that is. a hankering for voluptuous immobility. moral rectitude. As a consequence. which. Pitre added. Sicilian intellectuals transformed these negative images into positive attributes without overturning their premise.504 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. lacking capitalist industries and colonies. For Putnam. that were at once feudal. Approaching the groves and orchards surrounding Palermo. all the while harboring deep reservations about the extent to which a culture of reason could penetrate Sicily. to take an honorary seat in the Italian Senate. Moe 1998). the Leopard. In response to Chevalley’s perplexity. [who] wants to be respected. . Proclaiming his love for Paris and himself as a “Child of the Enlightenment. incapable of civilization unless guided by outsiders (1925). In one famous scene. they lamented. Meanwhile. so violent and cruel a terrain. 148). referred to “beauty. Six feverish months of unrelenting sun are broken each year by tempestuous rains that set dry river beds to frenzy. Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s unforgettable character Prince Fabrizio. our exotic vices. the new criminologists sought to prove that Calabrian and Sicilian men were predisposed to crime. . and propensity for abstract ideas. “Never ordinary. and yet for two thousand and five hundred years we’ve been a colony” (1963[1958]:145–46). factionalism. Banfield’s The Moral Basis of a Backward Society [1958]. Sicilian subjects are argued to “lack” civil consensus. “our shooting and knifing a hankering for death. Fabrizio. using the variable “congenital Latin decadence” to account for the southern crime rate (see Gibson 1998). . Chevalley. Sciascia found nonreason in his compatriots’ excessive individualism.” he says. for to obtain one’s rights in this way is considered shameful. The mafioso. . or Celtic endowment. Most pernicious. Number 4. This sinister image paralleled commonplace descriptions of Sicily as “a paradise inhabited by devils” where “neither customs nor laws can be civil” (Lupo 1990:152. the turn-of-the-century physician and ethnologist Giuseppe Pitre repre´ sented the mafia to northern Italians as an “honored society.” The word “mafia. . Finally. the idea of . he does not rely on the Law . they simply accommodated. Leonardo Sciascia.” formed the Sicilian character. . they described southern Italians and Sicilians as carrying inferior Mediterranean-type genes. . interior Sicily was a malign place where dangerous brigands and marauders traversed the “bare and monotonous” landscape as if some “mysterious and malicious power” weighed on it. demurs that he lacks the political optimism for such a responsibility: “In Sicily. Aryan. And Sicilians never resisted.” For Pitre no less than Lombroso ´ the mafia was an enduring manifestation of a Sicilian “way of being.” For him. organized crime among them. “is simply a courageous and skillful ´ man who does not bear a fly on his nose . for death again” (1963[1958]:146). with the “meanderings of the slow pragmatic Sicilian river. and a “spirit of association” and to be prey to inept and arbitrary justice. . An influential text was the Tuscan parliamentarian Leopoldo Franchetti’s 1876 report on the conditions of law and order in Sicily. outsiders are not the only observers to perpetuate a stereotypic view. laying down a “terrifying insularity of mind” in anyone who did not escape by the age of 20 (p. To Franchetti. August–October 2005 Outsider versions of this myth emerged full-force in the wake of Italian Unification in 1860. through collective social action. grace. This aspect of the myth of Sicily is amply illustrated by the U. . . Europe’s first “scientific” criminologists. led by Cesare Lombroso. exalted masculinity. tales of violent crime transformed the scent of orange and lemon blossoms into the “smell of rotting corpses” (quoted in Moe 1998:65). the aristocrat. a much-criticized work that reduced all of Italian society south of Rome to the single behavioral trope of “amoral familism. perfection. our languor. preoccupation with honor. Sicilians’ deep pessimism regarding their society’s improvement. too. he wrote. . dating to the thirteenth century. expressed a similar outlook. We’re as white as you are. 147). compared unfavorably to Britain. and corruption.S. political scientist Robert Putnam’s Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (1993). and absolutist—governments that did little but attempt to impose “hierarchy” over a potent “latent anarchy” (1993:123–30). bureaucratic. insiders have also emphasized. In the 1880s and ’90s. .” he said. all from outside.”) Here. none that we could call our own.” A complementary stereotype depicts Sicilians as unable to solve problems.” the island was not “made for rational beings to live in” (p. . Sicilian reluctance to change is the fault of governments. In the Prince’s eyes. indeed celebrated. a writer who began his career shortly after Lampedusa’s death in 1957. as the fledgling nation-state prepared to confront banditry and disorder in its newly acquired southern and island provinces. (Putnam is aware of but indifferent to the fact that his assessment is reminiscent of Edward C. .” the Prince declares. public faith. superiority and skill” (quoted in Lupo 1993:6). none made by ourselves. . and as the Queen of England. apathy and resignation are essential Sicilian characteristics. the Piedmontese diplomat Cavaliere Aimone Chevalley invites Fabrizio. which he attributes to his German heritage. applied social Darwinist theory to Italy and its regions. the Prince explains: “For over twenty-five centuries we’ve been bearing the weight of superb and heterogeneous civilizations.” he sought to mediate between the mystery of Sicily and the reason of Europe. a threat to the progressive northern Italians’ Alpine. If he is offended. For example. the sin which we Sicilians never forgive is simply that of ‘doing’ at all” (di Lampedusa 1963[1958]:145).

the residuals of mafia feeling are still present and alive. And yet they were also a source of disorder. a laceration” (quoted in Paoli 1997:66). Yet although Sciascia wrote brilliantly about the mafia and political corruption. muleteers. . expropriating the island’s vast ecclesiastical properties and selling them at auction. Recruited by gentry and noble estate and orchard owners as guards. Sciascia insisted. Lupo 1993. Thereafter. who portrayed southern peasants as driven by a “‘generic’ hatred [of a] ‘semi-feudal’ rather than modern character” (1971[1929–35]:272–73). but by this time mafiosi had something new to offer: electoral support for the national Christian Democratic Party. merchants. it ruled indirectly through the most powerful and often the most rapacious landowners (see Riall 1998). Collusion is indirect. however. the mafiosi who intervened would have been redundant. had the liberal Italian state been motivated to create order in Sicily. backed up by violence and the menace of violence. but the British and American invasion of the island in 1943–44 reversed this. their villains being not so much the mafiosi as the politicians and officials who used the mafia for their own ends. Their successors. these informal protectors claimed to restore order. and enclose common holdings. see also see Padovani 1979:viii–ix). Santino 1997). Sciascia quarreled bitterly with the antimafia activists of his time. Trained as an elementary-school teacher. Extortion. protected the landed elite from the reemergent problems of banditry and peasant protest. the mafia is invincible—a matter of destiny—and movements that would try to repress it risk causing great harm (1961: 178–79.” at the same time examining “the patterns of behavior” that helped institutionalize the myth of a Sicilian essence. rentiers. Nor do their alliances. Referred to as “that wicked deal” (Renda 1987:201–2). Its antecedents lay in the period 1815–60. the military and policing capacity. . Riall 1998). create a land market. a split. It was his judgment. their alliance with mafiosi is sufficient for these events to materialize without explicit direction. . that despite extreme misery and oppression. Let us revisit the mafia’s emergence and hegemony in light of this antiessentialist framework. only pretending to police their unauthorized use of violence. attempted to abolish feudalism. for the most part with impunity (Lupo 1997. pointedly condemning kidnapping. Pezzino 1995). a succession of governing regimes in Italy looked the other way as mafia “families” proliferated. the struggles of peasants and miners were further distorted because the mafia was closely tied to the baronial class of mine owners and latifondisti and to their allies who served as parliamentary deputies and high officials of the state. then rulers of Sicily. Sicilian peasants and miners had only a weakly developed sense of class consciousness. in any Sicilian. Instead the state relied on them. especially along the “bandit corridor” that extended through Sicily’s western mountains and in the commercially rich orchard district surrounding Palermo (Lupo 1990. imperfectly bounded. Periodic peasant uprisings resembled anarchism more than socialism—a kind of vendetta or “individual revolution” driven by personal “instincts” and ultimately self-defeating. and shepherds. the bandit practice that elites most abhorred. During fascism Mussolini appointed a special prefect for Palermo in an attempt to suppress the mafia as well as political opponents of his regime. Rather he would seek its emergence in “historically changing. Political elites rarely need to order a murder or menacing act. In 1950 a land reform was enacted.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 505 One had to go to Paris to breathe this different air (Padovani 1979:viii–ix. The heroes of his early novels who attempted to get to the bottom of things were drawn as naive and vulnerable actors. They in turn were repulsed by the Sicilianismo suggested by his 1979 reflection that “in myself as . when the Neapolitan Bourbons. 1995. these landowners were vulnerable to theft and kidnapping and had to employ thieves and kidnappers for protection. But the newly created Italian state had neither the resources. Clearly. nor the patience to build institutions that could govern the transitional chaos. The Mafia: Another Approach In seeking to understand a phenomenon like the mafia. The occupying military government sought the advice of influential landowners. Before his death in 1989. Mafiosi arose from the interstices of this situation—within an incipient entrepreneurial class of cart drivers. 1993. went farther down this road. Instead.” different from the movement of workers in the north (1961:13). Pezzino 1992. . Born in 1921. bandits.” so that fighting the mafia is like fighting “against myself . and mafiosi connected to these elites were appointed to local government positions. in the sulphur-mining zone of south-central Sicily. Some of the plots were modeled on or likely to evoke real instances of murderous collusion and took much courage to publish. intimidating and even murdering left-wing peasant leaders. the liberal Piedmontese who unified Italy in 1860. whether genetic or molded over centuries of bad government and a threatening climate and landscape. became their modus vivendi (Fiume 1991. articulated through networks of friends of friends. Sciascia grew up in Racalmuto. Sciascia 1979). protecting not only property but also outlaws. Because bandits roamed the countryside. multiple and branching social alignments. pose an obvious moral problem. In this sense. this arrange- . he never lost his empathy for Sicily’s poor. Eric Wolf would turn away from ideas about a Sicilian essence. Mangiameli 1994. Under the subsequent Italian Republic. now restored to power and position. For Sciascia there was a realta Siciliana that gave the regional socialist ` movement its own “particular development. almost inviting martyrdom. and all-around henchmen. he did not believe that reform was likely. His mystery novels of the 1960s developed this theme. the mafia. According to Sciascia. legendary for the exploitation of miners by domineering bosses. On this he cited Gramsci.

adding up to 75. focusing on its “demographic transition” from high to very low birthrates. were graced by about 100 civile houses of varying size and grandeur. Many local artisans became especially skilled by serving apprenticeships in Palermo. the initiative they took to practice birth . where they learned to work with expensive materials such as ebony and suede and to copy models in pattern books and journals. we became particularly attentive to cultural variation among them. wrought-iron balconies. spittoons. we encountered both a local cosca and the cultural dispositions and values that Sciascia identified as the most essential Sicilian “ways of being. the administration of the land reform. Villamaura’s streets. The graduates of these urban apprenticeships crafted the gentry’s baroque or rococo mirrored consoles. 146–52. Lupo 1997:28. and daily newspapers.000 “friendly” votes in the province of Palermo alone (Calderone. not absentee lords living in Naples or Palermo. the quieter crafts. the florescence of a rural bourgeois class bent on displaying the gentility that even noblemen would countenance as civilized required elaborate artisan production. These competing voices and traditions. The state’s failure to prevent the mafia from organizing the global traffic in heroin in the 1970s was perhaps the most consequential outcome of the “wicked deal” (see Rossetti 1994:183– 85). as tailors. petroleum lamps. and cabinetmakers strove to meet the desires of the new elites. each mafioso could muster at least 40 to 50 supporters.” And yet this town. in effect. 146–52. Because the town’s different classes experienced this change in different decades and for different reasons. Contrary to the usual argument that Sicilian peasant politics were imbued with the sentiment of personal vendetta. the gentry created a circolo civile. Italy’s Christian Democratic leaders were aware that American aid for rebuilding Italy in the wake of war and fascism would cease if the Communists were to enter the government (Ginsborg 1990:100–101. although obstructed by stones. August–October 2005 ment meant that the Communist Party. pursuing the alternative voices and traditions that competed with the exemplary protagonists. new house construction. The quid pro quo for these votes was the mafia’s relative immunity from prosecution or long jail terms and the green light to penetrate several new domains: in particular. occupying the comfortably furnished ground-floor rooms of a small palazzo on the main street. By 1902 the artisans had founded their own club—the Circolo degli Operai—on the opposite side of the street. as Wolf would have advocated. Artisans made up around 20% of Villamaura’s population in the early twentieth century. and some furniture in tow. had served as “little universities. set amidst vast latifundia. articulated most strongly by local artisans. substantially less fatalistic and less mafia-friendly cultural tradition. Among seamstresses. This circolo. can be traced to the late nineteenth century. the principal backer of the peasant struggle.000 to 100. In other words. and clients. Our study explored. and extravagant tombstones. cobblers. Number 4. one of them modeled after the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. blacksmiths. The severe repression of this movement in the early 1890s ended in the mass transatlantic migration of artisans as well as peasants to the United States. winning over more voters. The workshops of shoemakers and tailors. We were. With passion they embellished their country lives in the spirit of cosmopolitan improvement. their boots and shoes. from the 4–6-room two-story dwellings of the “little civili” to a few grand palaces of up to 30 rooms around a courtyard. 81 chairs. masons. McCarthy 1995:44). Estimates are that. McCarthy 1995:44). furnished with a mirror. they consciously courted mafia votes in response not only to domestic concerns but to the parameters laid down by the most powerful hegemon in the postwar system of nation-states. members of this emergent gentry were resident in the rural towns. According to the first house cadastre. In contrast to the nobles who preceded them. both regional and national (Ginsborg 1990:100–101. a class of civile landholders expanded in the countryside. most of whom were married to other artisans. a few learned to cut and follow patterns in Palermo. Each domain provided an opportunity for mafiosi to favor clients and friends. where interested peasants could gather in the evening for news and political discussion. As the new Italian state furthered the conditions for a capitalist land market in the 1860s through the ’80s. Clearly. an exclusive men’s club. Most civili families also acquired a villa on the wooded mountainside above the town and moved there in August—servants. and dust or mud depending on the season. Artisan “Universities” Conducting anthropological research during the mid1960s in a rural town we have called Villamaura (see Schneider and Schneider 1976). quoted in Arlacchi 1993:182–84). and public works. would remain excluded from participation in governing alliances. compiled in 1881. garbage. Participants in this (dare we say) “public sphere” were self-reflectively critical of “Sicilian” pessimism about collective action and social change. a clock.” they told us. urban produce markets. kin. Sicily’s agrarian regime had careened from a decade (the 1880s) of drastically falling wheat prices to an islandwide uprising known as the Sicilian Fasci. was the context for artisans’ evolving discussions about class and social justice. with a population around 7.506 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. This can only have reinforced the local presence of mafiosi in the rural and urban communities of Sicily and with this the myth that they were there to stay. in particular. the landless and land-poor laborers of this town manifested a coherent consciousness of their class situation that they attributed to their long-term interaction with local artisans. also supported another. between friends.500 at the time. In tolerating and utilizing mafia cosche. During the 1970s we undertook a second study of Villamaura. their ebonyinlaid gunstocks. four gaming tables. As if to mark their arrival. wardrobes.

” whereas the French (and the English) were “clever” (scaltro). and the Great Depression destabilized even the gentry. Although some “talented” artisans were recruited into the mafia. the two categories were relatively discrete. Many artisans’ wives were themselves artisans or ran small shops. were hardly a threat to companionate marriage. disrupting the flow of immigration remittances. The artisan conjugal pair also cooperated in work.” and “careful” to describe them. (“The more scaltro they were. brought to their shops and their circolo by couriers.” were robbed of meaningful communication with other women. in contrast to us Sicilians. Mafia wives. they were amplified and celebrated in the mafia traditions of hunting and banqueting where women were lampooned. The context for their shift from high to low fertility—from families of 8–13 children to families of 2–3—was the 1920s and ’30s. in 1913.” “attentive. Compared with peasant laborers. in conversations with female friends and relatives they dwelt on the superficial: new purchases. alas. the government instituted a currency revaluation. in a bottega or shop on the ground floor of their dwelling. 2–3-child family was embraced as a way to avoid economic ruin and maintain social respectability. performing in the municipal band. the idea of creating a small. In 1916. the first Communist year.”) Nevertheless. cabinetmakers. Artisan discourse characterized the French as piu ev` oluto. If women were unequal partners in their husbands’ activities. elected a handful of representatives to the town council. in the workshops those assembled convinced themselves that coitus interruptus was a skill they too could acquire.” Sicilians. In Villamaura they were the vanguard of the local socialist movement that. 150 socialist-led locals organized one of the earliest Sicilian protests against World War I. Sicily supported 37 such sections with 776 members in this. when the United States closed off the migration safety valve. in rural Sicily. eating pastries and preparing the way for class-endogamous marriages among their children. and were kept in the dark about many things (often to give them the protection of deniability). This combination of events was ruinous for the artisans. were “hot types. Artisans also enjoyed a unique pattern of leisure. Silenced from expressing their many anxieties. using words like “honest. Moreover. Shoemakers. frequenting such places meant stooping to mix with the “hopeless poor. of the gentry’s circolo civile. Several aspects of the artisans’ way of life (different from that of the peasantry) contributed to this seeming mutuality between women and men. including the gentry. a French cabinetmaking firm that had major building contracts and furniture workshops in Palermo. and surprisingly respectful of women. whose systems of apprenticeship and credit with merchants were further devastated after World War II by the competition of industrial manufactures. artisans felt well-informed about France because many of their number had worked alongside French artisans as employees of the Ducrot Company. aided by an expansion of the suffrage. both men and women made a point of saying that sexual satisfaction was important to women as well as men. in 1921.” According to elderly male artisans. more “evolved. although exclusively male. Persecuted under Fascism. still few. read. artisan women interacted intensely around their respective crafts.” than Italians and France as “orienting Italy” toward smaller family size. and tailors pursued their crafts close to home. A comparison with mafia families is especially apt. they presented contrasting cultural models to their local community. and to hide. and there were occupations. The Monday gatherings. mediational. by contrast.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 507 control with a commitment that was thorough. “could pick up a glass of water. not as a right. children. As a class of skilled craftsmen and women. ideological. especially nearby Ribera’s “four days of Bolshevism. and the weather. and possibly without their other family members present. artisans pursued the most gender-balanced and cooperative . they at least participated in them to a greater degree than did the wives of the agricultural classes. and one composed of veterans—occupied several latifundia. politically engaged artisans nevertheless continued to receive international publications and political tracts. literate since the late nineteenth century. seated at table with wife and children. “reverse gear. did so to meet emergencies of criminal prosecution. one Catholic. artisan wives were appreciative of their husbands’ sacrifices. artisan men spent relatively little time in the dozen or so bettole or taverns scattered through Villamaura’s neighborhoods. blacksmiths. drink half of it. Among their fondest memories were the evenings of dance and song that were held in each other’s houses.” who drank too much and beat their wives. Peasant men. too. “The French. In contrast. In our interviews with artisan families. poignantly suggest that mafia women. although capable of handling their husbands’ affairs. In 1919 there were local echoes of larger strikes. Many men knew and loved opera and themselves played musical instruments. Villamaura’s socialists spawned a section of the Communist Party with a roster of artisans at its head. mafiosi had roots in the commercial. and animal-herding sectors of the agrarian economy. and debate them in these “little universities. They ate their main meal at midday. and put it down again. the smaller their family. Finally. who couldn’t stop before the glass was empty. ate after sundown. the gathered company also engaged in animated conversations about their preferred birth control method—the highly rationalized practice of coitus interruptus.” At the time.” we were told. of all the local classes.” Three peasant leagues—one socialist. Autobiographical accounts. Patriarchal norms and patterns of behavior not only characterized the mafia model. and in collaboration with their wives. and most helped out in the training and discipline of apprentices. following an exhausting day in distant fields. artisans were conduits of international socialism in the Sicilian interior. By all accounts. suspecting many things that they were not supposed to “know. As noted above. considered by them a French invention and nicknamed marcia-in-dietro.

They frequented the shops of shoemakers. but not before they had developed two critical investigative strategies: “tracing the money” and turning some mafiosi into “justice collaborators. and public employees. Yet. Artisan Culture and the Struggle against the Mafia Our most recent research in Sicily took place in Palermo during the late 1980s and 1990s. Put somewhat differently. Number 4. Both artisans and peasants shared the experience of the fascist repression of the left. The struggle has been a difficult one. the antimafia effort to change society has roots in an indigenous cultural milieu different from the renunciation and pessimism that so many commentators. numerous rural towns have supported initiatives against the mafia led by local mayors. and fugitive captures. the rationalizing culture of rural-town artisanry in Sicily spread beyond its own boundaries. priests. antimafia reformers have inherited the submerged history of the peasant struggles.508 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. This has happened. supporters of the magistrates demanded government transparency and the removal of elements of the state that had historically given aid and comfort to the mafia. inside and outside. It is important to understand that participants in the antimafia movement share both location and history with the mafia. Catalyzed by mafia violence. “coped with the urine of animals. For reasons of their work. grasping the contours of what had formerly been a much-mystified phenomenon. In other words. A similar approach was taken in other institutions—the banks. a multifaceted citizens’ social movement. after all. but many of their families originated and still have roots in the artisan traditions of the interior agrotowns. peasant women were able to observe that the artisan wives of their neighborhood were no longer always pregnant. including political imprisonment and exile. They know about the martyrdom of the more than 50 peasant and union leaders who were killed by the mafia at the height of the peasant agitation for land around 1950 (see Santino 2000). Certainly in Villamaura craftsmen and craftswomen considered themselves as models for the rural population that.” As artisan men turned to coitus interruptus. practiced arts that “refined a people” and “coupled them with other nations. Dedicated to the struggle. because their struggle is grounded in Sicily and no more a cultural borrowing from outside than were the peasants’ and workers’ movements of the past. peasants spent a lot of time with artisans. although Palermo is the gravitational center of antimafia activism. and carpenters for news and gossip and as a passatempo. themselves quite possibly the sons and daughters of artisans. especially in Palermo. artisans as a rule sent the sons and daughters of their now quite truncated families to study and find employment in government service and the professions. teachers. It should also be noted that. becoming committed practitioners of “reverse gear” in the 1950s and ’60s.” Their efforts produced an astonishing amount of new knowledge in a short period of time and yielded an impressive number of arrests.” As we have suggested. regard as integral to a so-called Sicilian essence.” Artisans embedded in peasant communities in Sicily characteristically viewed themselves as bearers of a civilizing mission. Sustaining these efforts was the movimento antimafia. The work was dangerous. furthering Sicily’s cultural diversity (see Schneider and Schneider 1996). At the same time. it poured its energy into volunteer work promoting the values of democracy and civility.” Artisans. At the same time. the “public sphere” of . the church. And they know the legend of the “little universities” where the role and machinations of the local cosca entered political discussion. This is because. they harbored a particular affinity for the rationalizing culture of the French Enlightenment—a culture that many intellectuals of the time felt strongly attracted to but did not think their fellow Sicilians could share. they were also convinced of the civilizing potential of smaller families. Hence their judgment that the peasants who drank in the taverns were having children “like animals. instead of discussing worldly affairs. on whom they depended for many goods and services. Most important. One is the front of police and judicial investigation. A cohort of dedicated Sicilian prosecutors led by Giovanni Falcone demonstrated an impressive sociological imagination. artisans were among the leaders of the peasant leagues that occupied large estates after World War I and were prominent in the founding of local sections of the Socialist and Communist Parties. Antimafia projects in the public schools and the recuperation of Palermo’s degraded historic center—long the victim of the mafia’s corruption of real estate and construction—are examples. unfolding on several fronts simultaneously. tailors. while peasant men began to talk themselves out of their original. travel. it was not merely to limit family size. Speaking more generally. August–October 2005 of marriage arrangements. following World War II. so much so that Sicily is today a remarkably different place—changed in ways that no one thought possible a decade and a half ago. The resulting uncertainty and moral anguish have been the more troubling because all Sicilians are so often treated as a stigmatized category by the wider world. In other words. whether rural or urban. when we studied the antimafia process (see Schneider and Schneider 2003). antimafia activists coped with their anguish and remained committed. the university—all arenas in which reformers pressed for change. convictions. thus contributing substantially to the ranks of the urban educated. the health care system. the unions. they are also proud of their Sicilian identity and in some cases burdened by a past of ambiguous social relations. Most contemporary antimafia activists belong to the educated middle classes of Palermo and other cities. easing their path to modern “family planning. and way of life. barbers. and eventually Falcone and others were assassinated. we believe. incredulous response to the idea of withdrawal.

Consistent with the approach taken in Blok’s (1973) classic on the mafia (which contains several references to both Wolf and the Schneiders). Drawing from the writings of their eminent teacher Eric Wolf. self-perpetuating entity implying timeless consensus and harmony continues to dominate the discipline to such an extent that its practitioners find it necessary to attack it over and over again.” To a very great extent. made a series of public statements hostile to the magistrates who were prosecuting mafiosi. The authors spend considerable effort in distancing themselves from the old-fashioned definition of culture embraced by people like Benedict. fed by the opposition of some who represent the old regime and by the uncertainty of others who fear the potential for abuse of due process by the newly empowered police and magistrates. . enlightened group whose ideas and activities spilled over onto the landless labourers. overly eager to trample on those who do not agree with them. they describe culture as a process rather than a finished product. division. Lewis 1998) in which it is contended that even during the Boasian era culture was defined in such a wide variety of ways that charges of homogeneity. and competing voices—the obverse of an unchanging. the authors describe mafiosi as middlemen generated by identifiable historical changes and state formation and examine issues of Plural Cultures and the Myth of Sicily: A Conclusion Of course. Berlusconi is also outspokenly critical of the judiciary. That these voices and traditions provoke regressive measures is a lesson in how the protagonists of the dominant forms seek their reinstatement.ca). Sciascia. but it is the rare publication today that rehearses these dated accusations. who accused him of betraying his own past. the courageous author of novels and commentaries exposing the collusive entanglement of the mafia and corrupt politicians (see Sciascia 1960. It would be a mistake. In this paper the Schneiders have capably dealt a death blow to “the myth of Sicily. generating class consciousness. Guelph. but they helped to crystallize the Sicilianist opposition to antimafia initiatives (see Schneider and Schneider 1998). Comments stanley r. marked by struggle. and insightful had culture not entered the discussion at all. the anti-mafia movement developed out of an artisan class that emerged in the late 1800s. of course. . implying that the effort to repress the mafia is influenced by outsiders’ alien values and naive optimism about the possibility of change. antimafia activism is being undermined by the Berlusconi regime. 1964. homogeneous essence. Canada NIG 2W1 (sbarrett@ucguelph.” and my main criticism is only indirectly related to their central argument. some elements of which are accused of collusion with the mafia. Currently. in the past couple of decades we have witnessed the emergence not only of an anticulture school (for example. . . a forwardlooking. Critics accuse antimafia activists of being self-interested careerists. frozen in time. If the old (fictitious?) image of culture as a bounded. As Eric Wolf insisted. 1966). It is almost as if they were invoking Prince Fabrizio’s admonition that “the sin that we Sicilians never pardon is simply that of ‘doing. Here we see its significance for the antimafia process of today. This version of culture. then perhaps the time really has come to abandon the concept.’” Significantly. however. ON. culture is best understood in historical context and in relation to the “alternative voices and traditions” that would challenge the dominant ideological forms. “The memory of the path we have followed and the victories that were achieved should remain very much alive as proof of the fact that one can win. Instead it concerns the concept of culture. consensus. the backlash also sounds a Sicilianist chord. illuminates the Sicilian case. notably the recent anti-mafia movement. I suggest that this paper would have been just as clear. Abu-Lughod 1991) but also of an anti-anti-culture school (for example. and stability are nonsensical. They launch their attack on both theoretical and empirical grounds.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 509 artisans’ workshops and circoli in the rural Sicily of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries generated a homegrown modernizing tradition oriented toward informed debate and confident about social change. the antimafia movement provoked a backlash. were leveled against the equilibrium model associated with structural-functionalism in British social anthropology and in sociology. they argue. sound. a uniform essence incapable of internal change—the authors have been decidedly successful. a home-grown movement that contradicts the pessimism evoked by “the myth of Sicily. that so many efforts. However. At the same time. His words were shocking to movement activists. During the 1980s. inimical to the values of the Enlightenment. Because I would not like to see us return to cultivating the paralyzing myth of a mafia not only invincible but indeed untouchable” (2004:15). In the words of the Sicilian historian Salvatore Lupo. Comparable charges. barrett Department of Sociology and Anthropology. and so many sacrifices—even of human lives—count for something. to conclude that this moment of apparent retreat—Sicilians call it a “return to normalcy”—demonstrates the validity of the myth of Sicily. the continued commitment of Sicilians opposed to the mafia and its entwinement with politics demonstrates that the history of Sicily is the fruit not of myth but of struggle and that the mafia wedded to political corruption is not its inevitable destiny. University of Guelph. 19 iv 05 If the main purpose of this paper is to challenge “the myth of Sicily”—the viewpoint that the island has been and always will be captive to a culture of violence.

the pervasive “nativist” ideology which emerged partly as a reaction to outside Orientalizing discourses on Sicily (that of the “Southern Question” in particular). its nature. It has not only a thriving independence movement but also an anti-independence movement. the Schneiders were prompted to provide an answer to the then seemingly inevitable questions of its existence. In my judgment. but few have been interested enough to proceed with the longterm observation and analysis. SI-1000 Ljubljana. The fact that by the answers they provided they largely fell into the Sicilianist trap is partly to be attributed to certain methodological limitations of Malinowskian ethnographic fieldwork (again referred to by Eric Wolf). denying its existence as an organized criminal association. especially its “emicist” bias. explaining mafiosi and their behavior not as an automatism controlled by Sicilian (Mediterranean) cultural codes of honor and omerta but as specialists in ` manipulating these very codes required more epistemological perspicacity than it does today (and probably a particular political sensibility). as well as the landless peasantry? Where is the line drawn? What isn’t a “culture” or “cultural”? Finally. Contrary to “the myth of Corsica. Many have been tempted to try to resolve it. as well as two separate women’s peace organizations similar to those that emerged during “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland. These assumptions deserve to become a locus classicus of anthropological culturalism even though they do not appear in Ruth Benedict’s book. the Schneiders quite early questioned the notion that a homogeneous Sicilian culture (or character) was responsible for all the ills of the island. and its mode of organization.si). incapable of entering the modern world. In the title we find the words “plural cultures.uni-lj. and social movements.” The construction of Sicilian character may be compared to the redefinition of “Spanish essence” in early-twentieth-century regeneracionismo. Askerceva 2. Much more important are issues of colonialism. Let me briefly illustrate my criticism in the context of nearby Corsica.” But what are these cultures? The mafia “middlemen” and the anti-mafia “movement. and economic and political forces manifested in patterns of emigration and immigration and even in gender differences regarding the quest for independence.” the island today is a complex place. It was primarily the nondeterminist and nonessentialist notion of culture that allowed them to see the nature and internal organization of the Sicilian mafia more accurately than their colleagues (who tended to dissolve the mafia into Sicilian social structure and/or culture and thus to “mafia-ize” the latter). culture is a largely expendable concept with regard to Corsica. Filozofska fakulteta. this is perhaps another instance of the attraction of this “enigma” confronted on the ground.510 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. had they gone the extra mile and advanced our theoretical understanding of the manner in which culture is fused to power this excellent article would have been even more impressive. the transformation from feudalism to capitalism.” perhaps the artisan “class” and even the landrich bourgeoisie created in the 1800s. For scholars of nationalism. bojan baskar Department of Sociology. irrational and bellicose by nature. Critical analysis of Orientalist myths of Sicily is one task on the Schneiders’ agenda of extricating social science (and other) discourses on Sicily from their usual fatalist and essentialist assumptions. While Sicilianists (Sciascia included) would often blame “the centuries of Spanish rule” for Sicilian backwardness . Because exploring the mafia was not precisely part of their original agenda. Although the Schneiders certainly build struggle into culture and at least implicitly deal with resistance. paradoxically. Number 4. Therefore anthropologists who discussed the existence and the organization and functioning of the mafia were actually tackling some central issues in the repertoire of Sicilianist ideology. The precondition for seeing the mafia in this way was the capacity to disentangle oneself from Sicilianismo. The addition of culture to the mix does little to advance the argument and indeed may confuse it. 18 iv 05 Along with other anthropologists who started to study the Sicilian mafia at roughly the same time (Boissevain. and representing it as a somewhat exaggerated but authentic expression of the Sicilian character. Blok. class consciousness. who were initially largely incapable of understanding what was happening when the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina broke out. and this brings us to the topic of power. Slovenia (bojan. Hess). In the mid-1970s. Prince Fabrizio’s explanation of Sicilianness in terms of climate and landscape is strikingly reminiscent of the invention of the Castilian landscape as a national landscape by some regeneracionistas. Another case in point was the astonishing errancy of anthropologists working on Yugoslavia (specialists on Serbia in particular). there has existed “a myth of Corsica” embraced at times by Corsicans themselves.baskar@ff. thus legitimizing the mafia. In the same vein. is it more accurate to describe Sicily today as a complex of plural cultures or as an overarching culture containing subcultures? The paper provides no clear answers to these questions. This myth suggests that Corsicans are pre-Enlightenment brutes. While the Schneiders might want to label “alternative voices” plural cultures. Since the era of the vendetta and continuing with the violent contemporary independence movement. it is precisely they who have repeatedly criticized their earlier erroneous views. August–October 2005 class. “the myth of Corsica” and “the myth of Sicily” are more profitably conceptualized as discourse or ideas promoting interests. This defensive ideology initially claimed that the talk about the mafia and other alleged vices was no more than the calumny of malicious foreigners (especially northern Italians). comparative study of the ethnopsychological construction of national characters and national landscapes has proved rather useful in their “deconstruction. Adhering to Eric Wolf’s ideas about culture.

for example. Why did the peasants so easily accept the leading role and “civilizing mission” of their artisan leaders? Given that the Schneiders themselves provide some evidence of the artisans’ contempt for agricultural work and peasant life. Radboud University Nijmegen. as bearers of a backward tradition threatened with obsolescence by factory . those of Central and Eastern Europe. 21 iv 05 Schneider and Schneider offer us a clear and thoughtprovoking text that deepens our understanding of cultural processes in Sicily past and present.” Yet Sicilianist ideology is not only ethnic. In Andalusia the presence of a wide variety of crafts also made possible the “civilized” lifestyle of the gentry and bourgeoisie.nl). heyday.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 511 and immobility. work. and sociability. expansion. oddly. decline. more documentation. Their essay may also be read as a tribute to their teacher Eric R. This should not come as a surprise.) I have to admit that. (Here.driessen@maw. Schneider and Schneider claim that artisans viewed themselves as bearers of a civilizing mission and that they furthered Sicily’s cultural diversity. I think. While some anthropologists (Kuper 1999) find in Wolf’s critical statements support for abandoning the concept of culture altogether. In their overview of the mafia. The argument is largely based on their ethnography of the town of “Villamaura” and relies heavily on the recollection by local artisan and peasant families of their past life stretching back to the end of the nineteenth century. and reemergence of the rural mafia. Wolf gave a basic reason for rethinking. Artisans played leading roles in the anarchist and socialist movements. I was genuinely surprised by the proposition that the early social base of this alternative culture was the artisans of the interior agro-towns. comparison with similar movements taking place at the same time. home. and configurations of ideas” (Wolf 1999:289). societal organization. sexuality/procreation. might prove rewarding. There is evidence from Andalusia that supports the assertion of an artisanal counterculture. with regard to notions and practices of gender. Herzfeld (2004) documents a rich variety of artisans’ workshops in which apprentices are forced to learn their trades by harsh training. they point to Wolf’s recurrent worries about its potential for abuse. the concept of culture: “It is precisely the shapeless. rather than abandoning. This is an echo of the old ideal of holism that inspired his teacher Ruth Benedict. Artisans combined their relative autonomy and literacy with the development of extended social networks.kun. Blok hints at the role of artisans in providing leadership and a program for the peasant movement that had emerged by the end of the nineteenth century. 6500 KD Nijmegen. time. This led him to conclude his two most substantial books with afterthoughts on the notion of culture. The extremely interesting continuity that the Schneiders suggest needs. and elaboration of an alternative view of the mafia’s emergence and hegemony. since the structure of Andalusian agro-towns is in many respects similar to that of their Sicilian counterparts (Blok and Driessen 1984). Postbox 9044. again. the Schneiders appreciate his attempt to make it more flexible and openended and link it to power. literacy. and the continuity in terms of social background. “non-Sicilianist” culture which reemerged in the important citizens’ antimafia movement of the 1980s and 1990s. they neglect to mention) of the rise. The workshops of these “men with ideas” were foci of male sociability in which they preached moderation in drinking and sex as well as equality between the sexes (Mintz 1982). Schneider and Schneider come very close to Blok’s (1973) study (which. Hence another task undertaken by the Schneiders is to substantiate the “class basis” of an alternative. as a token of their admiration for the achievements of the antimafia movement. regeneracionistas were prone to blame similar Spanish ills on “the centuries of Habsburg rule. serving the interests of local dominant classes most conspicuously by legitimizing the mafia (which was instrumental in the repression of peasant and worker movements) but also by promoting patriarchal and masculinist values as authentically Sicilian. Evoking Wolf’s notion of tactical power. He argues that this practice reinforces the stereotype of artisans as rude and uncivilized. was this relationship always so unproblematic? henk driessen Departments of Cultural Anthropology and Mediterranean Studies. as a retrospective of four decades of involvement in Sicilian ethnography. Blok’s antiessentialist approach also owes much to Wolf’s work. Peasants and farm workers had less access to these sources of power. In their brief discussion of the concept of culture. in particular to the latter’s view of the links between local community and wider society. organizational expertise. for instance. in particular cultural determinism and the essentialization of difference. and values between the artisanal counterculture and the antimafia movement that emerged in the 1980s. and as a presentation of promising ideas regarding the role of craftsmen in the emergence and consolidation of a cultural counterpoint. This takes us to the core of the two-pronged argument put forward in this paper: the coexistence of contrasting cultural models and practices represented by mafiosi as opposed to artisans. albeit in a different way. discussion of the construction of the myth of Sicily. It has also been a class ideology. It is certainly an intriguing suggestion. Wolf. but it remains to be examined in more detail. How does this self-perception and variation relate to the general notion of civilta (or cultura in Andalusia) celebrated by agro` urban elites? Is it part of the urban ethos which scholars have linked to the compact agrarian settlements of southern Europe? Did artisans indeed prop up the urban way of life in the countryside? In a recent study of artisans in the Cretan town of Rethymnon. The Netherlands (h. all-encompassing quality of the concept that allows us to draw together— synoptically and synthetically—material relations to the world. although not unfamiliar with their work.

the transmission mechanism for all good things from socialism to coitus interruptus and “companionate marriage. Herzfeld does not mention the role of craftsmen as pioneers of the labor movement. Has this also been the fate of artisans in Sicily and Andalusia? In preindustrial times Cretan artisans were respected and their crafts a source of worth.O. The arguments are persuasive. “an indigenous cultural milieu”? The article raises a few issues that seem to need fuller investigation. and dismantle cultural materials.hauschild@uni. Box 11 03 51. As the Schneiders note. Wolf’s own teacher. they direct our attention to the processes that “construct. While this approach may indeed be viewed as an “alternative” to the vision of Ruth Benedict.” It seems to me that the Schneiders. in particular the use of the term “culture. along with Wolf before them. In this comment I concentrate on the vocabulary in which they are developed. the Schneiders theorize this at the end of their article as a case of “plural cultures”: does this not risk contradicting the Wolfian definition cited above of “a culture”? The danger of the singular usage is clear: in this case it plays into the hands of all those. 25 iv 05 The Schneiders offer a good example of a new kind of materialism which could become the “post-postmodernism” anthropological paradigm. and it is highly appropriate that they should have been invited to deliver the present contribution as a public lecture in his honor. Their oeuvre is an outstanding application of the anthropological vision of Eric Wolf. having drawn attention to the cultural variation to be found within Sicily. chris hann Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Germany ¨ ¨ (thomas. They do not entertain the illusion of being able to return to the idyllic era of “pure facts. August–October 2005 production and globalization. if any. P. moving back and forth between anthropological and auto-stereotypes and between the raw facts of socioeconomic organization and historical conjecture. who wish to hold on to the idea of a deep and pervasive spirit of Sicilianismo (it is not made clear what status. exemplified by artisans. Did they perhaps play a different political role in Crete? Schneider and Schneider have tapped a rich source for further research into cultural diversity and its connections with power. Germany (hann@eth.” but in places they might be accused of constructing an alternative myth—that of the modernizing artisans. “They presented contrasting cultural models to their local community”. “a cultural borrowing from outside”. the Schneiders have paid attention to the changing political economy of the island: both internal structures of production and power and the wider dependencies. 18 iv 05 For several decades the work of Jane and Peter Schneider has offered a welcome corrective to the influential strands of American social science writing about southern Italy which have emphasized the prevalence of “amoral familism” (Banfield 1958) and the lack of “civil consensus” (Putnam 1993). In the end. they retain the concept by identifying a second culture. But how far can this method be pushed? Instead of calling for pluralization and raising the question of how many cultures Sicily might possess. That the artisans’ clubs established around the turn of the last century have had an influence on the antimafia movement of recent decades is asserted rather than proven. reconstruct. as evidenced by the recent strength of anti-antimafia sentiment and the popularity of Forza Italia in Sicily? How exactly is the “submerged history” of earlier struggles passed on? Some of these questions are of course addressed in the Schneiders’ recent book (2003). including staunch and creative critics of the mafia.de). The ` Schneiders contest this “essentialist totalizing conception of culture” by drawing attention to the material foundations and institutional structures which shape conflicting worldviews and practices.512 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46.mpg. could the Schneiders’ case be more effectively made by dispensing with this term altogether? What would be lost if the noun or adjectival form were simply omitted in phrases such as “The antimafia had genuine cultural roots in Sicily”.tuebingen. however.de). By analyzing cultural data as hybrids (Latour 1999). fail to resolve the perennial dilemmas surrounding this concept. Tubingen.” Why exactly has the other myth apparently been more easily disseminated and internalized in the long term by the island’s inhabitants. the term “culture” has in local discourse or whether Leonardo Sciascia himself uses it in explaining the realta Siciliana). and dismantle cultural materials in response to identifiable determinants” (Wolf 1982:387). In place of essentialist generalizations about Sicily. The Schneiders attack one “myth of Sicily.” But. Especially their description of their experience with the liminal situations of a series of bur- . reconstruct. “less mafia-friendly cultural tradition”. Number 4. which stands in opposition to the dominant culture and “myth” of the island’s elites.” but they also do not subscribe to the idea that every attempt at the study of Mediterranean culture is just a phantasmagorical act of “Mediterraneanism” (Herzfeld 2005:63).” They present evidence of Sicilian cultural ambiguities which allow the development of both mafia and antimafia behaviour. Tubingen University. “the rationalizing culture of rural-town artisanry”. where I note with pleasure that the term “culture” is not considered significant enough to appear in the index. They open by citing their teacher’s antiessentialist perspective: “A culture is thus better seen as a series of processes that construct. 06017 Halle/Saale. Wolf’s last major work of 1999 was very much a celebration of “anthropology’s inexorable romance with cultural variation. thomas hauschild Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. it amounts arguably to little more than a restatement of the mainstream Boasian perspective.

and landscape remain unresolved points in the argument. I am not arguing in favour of a crude geomorphological materialism. Australia (andrew. and this lecture has provided the Schneiders an opportunity to undertake one. Bromberger and Durand 2001. earthquakes. is it not possible that raw factors. the question when and how the pendulum swings from violence to non-violence and back is open for discussion. and geographical (infrastructural and economic) categories has yet to be examined in the light of an anthropology critical of mentalism and essentialism. refined materialism opens up new vistas even for the reintegration of some arguments that they discard. In any case. Sicily as a set of geostrategical. While the Schneiders show that the artisanal/middle-class cultures embraced educational opportunities most quickly. This reproduction appears to reflect the constant util- . in a specific frame of historical and technological development. culturalist. But despite these seemingly uniform forces of change. andrew kipnis Department of Anthropology. If the mafia and the anti-mafia movement have their origins in the same cultural processes. To sum up. Pitt-Rivers 1963) and superior in explanatory value to the 1990s politics of deconstruction (Herzfeld 1987). though embraced at different moments by different societal sectors. the mafia/antimafia cultural dualism is reproduced. there is an increase in the scale of the economy. This replication occurs during a period in which Sicily is undergoing what many would consider the classic processes of modernization. and Nanetti 1992. the Schneiders’ new. Rather he would seek its emergence in ‘historically changing. quasi-genetic. drought. has engulfed the entire island. The Schneiders write: “In seeking to understand a phenomenon like the mafia. Finally. the historical longue duree. Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. ACT 0200. and historicist-idealist interpretations of Sicilian dispositives of power. 641–42). Albera. Canberra. and I conclude from this that geography.kipnis@anu. often quantitative data. and quasi-genetically coded ´ “culture” (Putnam. and Putnam’s historicism in reference to raw. and Bromberger 2001). the “myth of Sicily” deserves a good debunking. Does this help to explain the fact that similar Euro-Mediterranean developments in civil law and civil society lead. Blok. 17 iii 05 I suspect that few anthropologists would disagree with what the Schneiders call Wolf’s antiessentialist approach. such as Leonardo Sciascia’s on the different degrees of freedom from violence and control in Sicily and in Paris. Harris 2005) that would be much more differentiated and self-reflexive than the old concepts of the “Mediterranean countryman” (Braudel 1972. Is there a constant “cost” to be paid in the face of seemingly contingent factors such as geography and demography. the study of social and territorial as well as cultural “reserves” (Hauschild 2002:11–12. international trade in drugs and other legal and illegal substances. Banfield 1958). after many cultural and political elaborations.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 513 lesque mafia banquets and their analysis of elements of civil society in various artisans’ “salons” signal the end of an anthropology of Sicily and southern Italy dedicated mostly to the idealistic themes of mentality. imperfectly bounded. have the last word? Among these factors I would include degrees of viability in a landscape—losses to the economy due to damage caused by landslides. Eric Wolf would turn away from ideas about a Sicilian essence. whether genetic or molded over centuries of bad government and a threatening climate and landscape. My idea is to criticize and rethink Banfield’s. now has the chance to return to the discussion of geographic limits.edu. though the setting for this lecture perhaps eliminates the possibility of a serously critical attitude towards Wolf’s scholarship and the debates he had over the years with Marshall Sahlins and others. and the consumption of media of both national and international origin must have broadened the horizons of almost all Sicilians. Space is at stake. a “cost” in terms of degrees of violence and casualties? Is there a way to calculate the violent and non-violent character of local and regional cultural processes in relation to degrees of infrastructural and natural disaster (Munich Re-Group 2005)? On the map of risk and natural disasters the Mediterranean is an all-red area contrasting with a much calmer Central and Western Europe. In the process they give an interesting account of the institutionalization of various aspects of Sicilian mafia and antimafia cultures and their reproduction across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. to very different cultures of violence and peace? Central recent discussions of the reliability of the concept of the Mediterranean as a culture area seem to point in this direction (Horden and Purcell 2000. space. Sciascia’s. multiple and branching social alignments.au). The new anthropology of the Mediterranean. Leonardi. A demographic transition. This could lead to a new universalism and regional realism (Albera 1999. geomorphological. and the geostrategical position of landscapes. and it is accompanied by the rise of compulsory education. The “threatening climate and landscape” have not previously been mentioned as part of the litany of essentialisms. The Schneiders begin with an opposition between culture conceptualized as “an organization of diversity” and culture conceptualized as the “replication of uniformity. I suspect that the majority of children of even peasant/proletarian class backgrounds are now literate and attend school for close to a decade. I would like to expand the argument a bit. Australian National University. Labor out-migration to the United States and northern Italy. after a period of selfreflection and sometimes exaggerated fragmentation of argument. Given that cultures of every sort allow for violent and non-violent interpretations.” Yet. on the pages leading up to this assertion they merely present substantial arguments against mentalist.” What I find fascinating in their article is the historical replication of a particular form of opposition captured in the mafia/antimafia dualism.

and present manifestations in Sicily but also reveals the pluralistic and responsive character of cultural ensembles. Only as late as 1993.514 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. The article also seems to suggest possibilities for change. Something akin to the mafia exists. For a long time the church kept its distance from the criminal domination of society or was reluctant to voice criticism of mafia activities. More important. Though the types of economic activities enabled by such control have shifted over the years. in coalition with peasant movements. demonstrating that the extent of mafia activity has waxed and waned over the years would give further support to the Schneiders’ nonessentializing argument and further hope to contemporary antimafia activists. there has always been some profit to be made. like the artisans. careful in investigating the interaction between dominant and hidden traditions in society. I wonder if there is any way to measure the extent of mafia activity or the extent of mafia control of the local state. be better off with a non-mafia-controlled local state. and political despair and the myth of the necessity to import social reform and modernization solely from outside. Austria (musner@ifk. The reproduction of the mafia/antimafia is further supported by the divergent patterns of gendered family interaction. overcoming cultural pessimism and political apathy. embedded in a chorus of alternative articulations and traditions and thereby also challenging social hierarchies and hegemonic formations of power. Number 4. tailors. Reichsratstrasse. The opposition to mafia activities is reproduced in part because there have always been some people who would have been better off if the local state had not been captured by mafiosi interests. The artisanal/middle classes have taken the lead here. histories. It not only describes the dialectics of mafia and antimafia and their origins. while on a visit to Agrigento. some sort of data illustrating the extent of mafia activity in Sicily would help convince us that there really is a problem rather than just an Orientalizing myth. while on the artisanal side there are practices that privilege the conjugal bond and nonviolence. a neutral authority. By shedding light on the dissenting forces and voices in Sicily’s history they are able to demonstrate that social transformation emerged within the cultural milieu of skilled labour and artisans and that no less than the mafia’s criminal organization the movement against it has genuine roots in Sicily. 17. family planning. and other skilled craftsmen who created a micro-world of enlightenment and rational conduct implementing birth control. I suspect that the majority of this class would. the paper is a brilliant and nuanced analysis of the plurality and specificity of Sicily’s culture between mafia hegemony and emancipation from it and exemplifies the great advantage of an approach that is historically well-informed.ac. and open enough to account for the contingency of social alignments and symbolic articulations. shoemakers. generated a local tradition of modernization and reformist thought that questioned the myth of Sicily’s eternal fate and made people confident that social reform was not just a utopian but a real. they manage to deconstruct a double myth: the myth of the opaque and timeless character of an essentialist Sicilian culture entirely shaped by climate. Though their patterns of gendered family interaction may be conducive to producing some young men who are eager to join the mafiosi. The most impressive part of the paper is the investigation of the unique life-world of Sicilian artisans. manageable perspective. insularity. More determination from the central state in controlling mafia excesses may be one factor here.at). By adopting this perspective. the picture is mixed. Given that the Schneiders take the mafia to be an institutionalized reality instead of a myth. and bribery. The Schneiders convincingly show that the artisan “universities” functioned as a motor of civil society and constituted the historical nucleus of the antimafia movement. On the mafia side there are rituals of male bonding and the cultivation of the capacity for male violence. For those with little knowledge of Sicily like me. A-1010 Wien. and political self-organization that made them. almost everywhere in the world. Nevertheless. underground alliances. did Pope John Paul II denounce the mafia as a regime of oppression and death—a significant step for an institution which has long functioned as a pillar of Sicily’s architecture of power. or a source of opposition to the mafia. 15 iv 05 Jane and Peter Schneider’s paper offers a marvellous synopsis of major research results elaborated in their recent book Reversible Destiny (2003). The liberal atmosphere of the artisan workshops. . Contemporary antimafia activists have inherited either by family roots or historical transmission the submerged tradition of peasant and artisan struggles for better living conditions beyond poverty and crime. Another may be the spread of an education system that produces more people with middle-class dispositions. Their approach echoes the methodological spirit of Eric Wolf’s cultural anthropology and his effort to perceive culture as mutable structures reflecting multiple and branching social alignments. lutz musner Internazionales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften. forerunners of social emancipation and leftist politics. to a greater or lesser extent. What is missing in this paper is a careful in-depth assessment of the manifold role of religion and the Catholic Church. It is testimony that Eric Wolf’s concept of historical anthropology still offers tremendous intellectual potential for excellent scholarship. geography. August–October 2005 ity of a mafia culture that can partially control the local state by means of threatened or actual violence. For the peasants/proletarians. whether as a collaborating agency.

creating a “public sphere” for debate in their Circoli degli Operai. First. Both authors have consistently been influenced by Wolf’s work and have made a number of remarkable contributions to the understanding of the mafia and Sicily. from Latin America. In the discussion of these struggles. Even if there is a direct relationship between the artisan culture and the anti-mafia reformers. Facultat de Geografia i Historia. Here I want to highlight two of their achievements in this article. I am afraid that there might be an underestimation of local peasants’ ability to organize some form of collective struggle. political maturity. the anthropological approach and critique can always reveal that social. Such is the case of the Sicilian mafia when treated as a part of the nineteenth-century myth of Sicily perpetuated by the writings of Franchetti. when the “harmonious” Catalan civic space is penetrated by labour immigrants from other regions in Spain or. artisans are presented as acquiring an enlightened culture in the city that they then bring to rural towns. “reason.com). contributed to demonstrating that “the history of Sicily is the fruit not of myth but of struggle. more recently. artistic creativity. 08028 Barcelona. political. This is a common idea in organic corporatist models of society and is generally directed as an ideological weapon against labour organization. This is a very Wolfian stance. it is important to unpack the active process of keeping certain strands of memory alive that produces a particular sense of coherence and helps orient the present movement. there are strands of cultural production that are locally grounded. and the rise of a local agrarian bourgeoisie— two cultures that reproduce confrontation through time. They also point to a corollary of this notion. fostering an organic view of the social. the demise of the landed aristocracy. Martınez ´ Alier (1968) pointed to the culture of solidarity that the day labourers of Andalucıa—many of them illiterate— ´ created at the turn of the century and to their ability to produce a “public sphere” of debate around social and labour issues that generated a practice of land occupations. the coalition of “multifaceted” citizens in the anti-mafia movement is described as “having inherited the submerged history of the peasant struggles” and thus as descending from a long-term alternative “culture. more important. ´ Brasılia. and cultural categories are more intricate than they appear to be. Africa. As a corollary there is a bifurcation of the notion of “change. I think. Brazil (gustavor@unb.” and rauxa.. Lombroso. Wolf’s views on culture. This metaphor structures the nation’s “common good” around economic and power differentiation.” “Good” change comes from within the complementary forces of tradition and risk (with their emotional corollaries seny. this strand of the myth of Sicily could. more recently. the dynamics of the production of a “collective will” are not clear. “Bad” change comes from the outside. c/ ` Baldiri i Reixac s/n.” I am curious to know whether there were any “peasant” local cultures of resistance and dissent and what connection the Schneiders see between a “rationalizing” culture and a “civilizing mission” capable of organizing struggle. ´ and. etc. be more clearly interwoven with the historical struggles for land reform that they describe. Sciascia and Putnam. where I have done fieldwork.br). Universitat de Barcelona. 20 iv 05 Jane and Peter Schneider’s article is an excellent example of the centrality of history to the understanding of social and cultural realities that are prone to being essentialized. Therefore intellectuals and politicians of various persuasions tend to credit industrial development. however. that change of any kind comes from the outside.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 515 s u s a n a n a ro t z k y Department d’Antropologia Social. the cult of “honour. whose class consciousness appears to be tied to interaction with them in their “little universities. Although the Schneiders inform us about the participation of artisans and peasants in the land occupations of 1919. labour unrest and the discourses that generate it are often credited to foreign ideas and people (Narotzky 1997:177–89). In Catalonia. They seem to become the “organic intellectuals” of the rural subaltern classes. the historical development of a nationalist discourse in the nineteenth century produced a myth of Catalonia which is also ambivalent and heterogeneous. contrary to the essentialist view of Sicilians as homogeneously characterized by primary instincts.” and fatalism. “passion”) that structure Catalan society around the metaphor of the household. ´ 5 v 05 Schneider and Schneider’s piece is an outstanding example of the strength of Eric R. Pitre. and Asia. In my opinion there is a Gramscian subtext here that should be made clearer by analyzing the production of connections between peasants and artisans in concrete struggles such as those spurred by land reform. to internal cultural characteristics of Catalan society. Spain (narotzky@jamillan. University of Brasılia. they show that.” g u s t a v o l i n s r i b e i ro Department of Anthropology. which appears as an ambivalent and heterogeneous construction of which the common thread is the notion of a Sicilian character that is resistant to change. Significantly. I would be interested to see them expand on this ideological proposition. The authors reveal that “state sponsorship was consequential for the hegemony of a mafia-friendly milieu” and that.” This argument seems to support a simple dichotomy between two distinct local “cultures” that can be historically traced to the political economic struggles of the formation of the Italian state. They show us the diverse perspectives that converge in the myth of Sicily. The Schneiders have pointed to the centrality of history in explaining present-day social movements and. innate or (as in the case of immigrant “success” stories) acquired. in spite of the efficacy of stereotypes. Wolf himself would never ac- . DF 70 910-900. Although the Schneiders seem to hint that something parallel is at work in the Sicilian case. Finally.

August–October 2005 quiesce in reducing complexity to simplicity or triviality. Wolf discerned differentiated laboring groups creating differentiated cultures—values. In some scenarios there have been peasant rebellions. I see a need for more consideration of the relationships between the “myth of Sicily” and Sicily’s particular position within an expanding European capitalist system. is that its power is predicated upon the power of Eurocentrism. but he perceptively ` recognizes how close we were to conflating “the mafia” with a (thereby “mafia-ized”) Sicilian milieu. occurring in “rough-and-tumble” interaction with other groups. he answered. The second achievement is related to a larger set of studies whose sedimentation has been steadily increasing in the past two decades in ways that are not necessarily similar to their own theoretical concerns. N. woolen textiles) under specified relations of production. for example. Jane and Peter Schneider show how southern Italians and Sicilians were turned into “inferior” peoples and thus contribute to the demystifying of stereotyped discourses on subalternized others.Y. whose research in Sicily in the 1960s resulted in a classic text on the rural mafia from which we learned a great deal. At the same time.. has made quite clear: mafiosi do not simply “use” derivative forms. This is no surprise. their entanglements. rather. primitives. Number 4. However. In other situations—Brazil is a case in point—powerful rural elites have acted as brokers representing the interests of a weak and distant central state. which in turn rests on the power of capitalist expansion. and resilience. of moves towards de-orientalization in anthropology has yet to be ascertained. and configurations of ideas” was. has become a metaphor for all sorts of illicit collective activities carried out with different degrees of sophistication. It would be interesting to see what global anthropological studies of “mafias” as inspiring as the Schneiders’ work in Sicily would tell us about these social networks that defy state power while negotiating with it. As Sydel Silverman recounts (personal communication). I refer to discourse analysis. generally of unequal power. and their unexpected results. they make . societal organization. It may be of interest that at the time none of us appreciated the extent to which the mafia engaged in its own cultural production. 31 vi 05 As an anthropologist reading Marx. accumulated in the recent antimafia investigations. There is another angle I want to explore. Eric Wolf felt especially engaged with the detailed descriptions of laborers producing particular commodities (gold. “It’s more complicated than that. these relations at once shaped by historical context and shaping the possibilities for struggle and change. When they turn to an analysis of the mafia.S. violence.” Baskar notes our argument of the 1970s that mafiosi ideologically manipulated the codes of honor and omerta for purposes of their own. His integration of “material relations. En- visioning Power (1999). but I wonder how illuminating comparison or juxtaposition with other cases might be. Driessen is right to call us to task for not acknowledging Wolf’s influence on Anton Blok. and uncivilized people. Anthropologists have a trained eye for seeing specificities. In various senses. transpose the holism of his teacher Benedict to the “subgroups” of complex societies. Violence has been present in politics and in the regulation of class struggle. Anthropologists have long been dedicated to the critique of ethnocentrism. as well as in Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century (1969). although they stress the roles of nation building and class structure and its changes. The Yanomami can be portrayed as the fierce people or Muslim countries inevitably associated with terrorism. including its material reality and the social reproduction of their working arrangements through time. The impact of Orientalism or. involved reworking available elements and inventing new ones as circumstances changed. U. diversity. by no means unique to Orientalism. open-ended and flexible. and meanings related to their entire round of life.516 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. practices. when Wolf (considered an enemy alien) was interrogated by an English tribunal in early 1940 and asked whether Nazism was pure evil. the difference. especially of the kind that has become associated with Edward Said’s notable work on Orientalism (1978).A. Ethnocentrism and its excesses are related to power asymmetries everywhere. The histories of colonialism and nation building are full of attempts to legitimate domination through the use of taxonomies that give dominant elites the right to exercise power over savages. cultural production.” The more-complicated-than-that perspective is the basis of anthropological approaches. the productiveness of the historical approach is apparent. What I am implying by this brief allusion to Brazil is that Wolf’s methodology and approach in his last book. But (contra Hann’s suggestion) Wolf did not. as Jane and Peter Schneider know much better than most of us. In Marx’s rich accounts. Sinister images of people have historically coincided with the denial of their human qualities. Our and Blok’s reluctance to accept police reports at face value regarding. and comparison/juxtaposition. in effect. Wolf’s Marxian theoretical sophistication— and the Schneiders’ article is a tribute to this—made him highly aware of the sociological and historical constraints structuring any situation subject to anthropological inquiry. as Driessen emphasizes. The mafia. or inferior. are extremely rich sources of inspiration that condense a perspective simultaneously sensitive to complexity. distinct from the wider practices and values of agrotowns like Blok’s “Genuardo” and our “Villamaura. patron-client relationships have made an imprint perceptible in many areas to this day. mafia initiation rites kept us from discovering what subsequent testimony. in others messianic movements. linen. irrational. history. Reply jane schneider and peter schneider New York.

Narotzky. for example. We are reluctant to abandon the culture concept as it was understood by Wolf. magistrates. Short of tracing how “concrete struggles for land affected relations between peasants and artisans. have of course celebrated the “exemplary protagonists” of the anti-antimafia backlash referred to in our essay.” Both he and Driessen suggest that artisans have played a similar role in other places.” Power and money amplify their effects.” “ideology. some of Sicily’s left-wing party and union leaders participated.” following a modernization paradigm. do charisma and the strategic choice of language and images. and “graduates” of the artisans’ little universities must have been complicit. agree. Through the power-saturated operations of words and pictures. rooted in their “unique life world. Barrett considers this lapse to be a brief for chucking the (outmoded) “culture concept” in favor of terms like “hegemony. as several commentators point out. At present. eventually. The answer is yes but under different labels. In our book and other publications we discuss in detail the development of the Sicilian construction industry in the decades after World War II. Andalusia. kindly. in rampant. dominant groups in society become what Wolf called the “exemplary protagonists” of particular “traditions. and Hann ask for more documentation of the processes through which the artisan model may have influenced peasants’ values and practices and. children of artisans. Numerous artisans. social solidarity. so. we think. many of them also of agrarian origin. media.” It remains important—and a contribution of anthropology—to show wider publics that there are much more fruitful ways to think about culture.” In Envisioning Power. Wolf (1999) focused on “exemplary protagonists” of a particularly nasty sort who. How and why this happens is a complex question that we have not ourselves well resolved. worked energetically to turn putative cultural sim- ilarities into “sentiments of identity.” constituted a “motor” for civil society. and discourse because the latter are not so much anchored in the material life worlds of particular groups as honed and disseminated by intellectuals.” Baskar. whether because their skills were relevant or because they were ruined (as Driessen guesses) by industrial manufactures. have had in the rural towns of western Sicily.s c h n e i d e r a n d s c h n e i d e r Plural Cultures of Sicily F 517 up their own. Elements of these towns. Kipnis is likewise accepting. informed the antimafia social movement. And it heavily involved mafiosi. above all in Palermo. this sector. Similarly. together with emigration. “overcoming cultural pessimism and political apathy. Musner. feminists included.” we would perhaps discover a two-way flow in which peasants’ experiences of extreme exploitation and injustice influenced shoemakers and cabinet makers’ political ideas and participation much as the horrible conditions of factory labor in northern Italy in the 1960s influenced the politics of (real) university students.” and “discourse” that better capture the propagation of ideas by one group over others. Driessen. Narotzky raises a further point about artisan influence derived from her own research on peasant resistance. love of country. mafia-influenced corruption that entwined building contractors and speculators with local government officials. and police investigators. That corpus of work suggests an understanding of cultural practice that complements but goes beyond the concepts of hegemony. There remains the issue of the cultural influence of Sicily’s artisans. schools. It also absorbed a host of artisans.” institutionalizing selected values and practices while silencing or marginalizing others. Baskar. namely. too. as did all the other parties and unions. ideology. That such protagonists so often hold sway is in part because what they glorify or vilify connects with the lived experience of some of the groups they intend to order or rule. Following on the heels of the land reform of 1950. rewords our proposition: the dissenting voices of artisans. historically the loci of the strongest mafia traditions. perhaps the majority. aversion to cultural others. historians. realta Si` ciliana or Sicilian modo di essere. This takes us to another dimension of Wolf’s understanding of the link between culture and power. Were we to attempt to “prove” rather than assert that artisan culture has influenced Sicily’s antimafia process. Have we attributed to Sicily’s day laborers and sharecroppers the cultural pessimism and political apathy that protagonists of the “myth of Sicily” have long pinned on the island population as a whole? Have we underestimated the peasants’ organizational capacity? Were we to look more deeply into the public sphere of the artisanal “universities. churches. The building trades would be a good case in point. think tanks. Hann asks if the culture concept appears in local discourse—if Sciascia used it. publications. The values and practices produced by specific groups out of the conditions of their round of life and the changing circumstances affecting them may become models influencing cultural production in other groups. we explicitly denied the unity of the mafia as a translocal organization until we were forced to change our minds by the cumulative evidence and argument of late-twentieth-century journalists. Of particular interest. we would have to take contradictions such as this into account. although he is more inclined to view education as the “motor. would. in the context of politics and war. for example. but theirs are not the only voices being heard. having analyzed how the ethnopsychological construction of national characters and landscapes served some unfortunate nationalisms in Central and Eastern Europe. and not simply because our essay originated as a tribute to his work. our best effort is to highlight the leadership of artisans in pre-1960s antimafia efforts and the resonance that contemporary antimafia activists. “way of being. became the foremost destination for agricultural labor displaced by machines. Chris Hann is correct to suggest that our essay overplays their homogeneous concreteness as a group. and various “bully pulpits.” perhaps these considerations can qualify what Narotzky . That the protagonists are also always vulnerable to unanticipated bursts of resistance is in part because other groups have all along been generating contrary “ways of being.

and imperialism as critical to the history of the mafia and antimafia struggles in Sicily. Perhaps it is significant that this priest and his comrades on the left were all the sons and daughters of artisans. in the 1980s and ’90s. on his way to the polls. Although we would not want to go too far down the road of “geostrategical. Significantly. In the early twentieth century. inter-cosca relations more or less independently of this political shield. in this regard. Generated out of the violence of asymmetrical power—for example. but they organized their own. We cover some of these developments in our book. Because political authorities. [srb] . l i l a . too. influenced by Vatican II. was the brother. Both also remind us that Sicily is far from alone in having generated organized crime formations in modern times (Barrett references Corsica. commercial mediation. Edited by Richard G. 1990. Supporting politicians electorally. Moreover.” in Recapturing anthropology. In Villamaura. abrupt disinvestment. as Ribeiro suggests. seems unconvinced that the mafia is an institutionalized reality in Sicily apart from the myth that criminalizes all Sicilians. Number 4. and arrogant dispossession provoke extreme unrest and when and where unrest veers toward one or more of the following possibilities: messianic movements. and doing so brings us to Hauschild’s tantalizing intervention. Constituting an economic and ecological substrate of mafia formation. 1993) that. possibly affecting their modality of violence. radical priests from all over Sicily lent their energy to the antimafia movement. extortion was their premier crime. Elastic relationships between local mafias articulated well with these crimes. It is interesting. political corruption. (So. political patrons enabled a certain degree of integration among cosche. in a few cases. while the apparently calmer Central and Western Europe produced the Holocaust—it is nevertheless striking. intent on reasserting order. Courageous actions such as promoting youth activities in mafia-dominated neighborhoods and discouraging parishioners from selecting mafiosi as godparents could jeopardize a priest’s career. they resurfaced after World War II in the “mafia wars” related to narcotics trafficking. The clergy.” Indeed. the entire zone was a gateway to the interior—the main pathway over which rustlers drove stolen livestock for clandestine butchering and sale in Palermo. these divergent tendencies deepened as the coastal and orchard mafias gained advantage from their greater commercial interaction with relatives in the United States.l u g h o d . when and where oppressive landlordism. piracy. Historically. Finally. a neutral authority. they received protection from them. and gangsterism have identifiable geographies. and organized crime. and the control and distribution of water. Santa Fe: School of American Research. or a source of opposition to the mafia. (Kipnis. Two commentators—Barrett and Ribeiro—draw attention to the dramatic power asymmetries of capitalist expansion. even as their bishops (and the pope) urged caution. it was all three. loved spreading the story that Ruffini “died on the field of battle”—namely. colonialism. its circumstances were varied and changing. with whom he was very close.) Eventually. In contrast. indeed.518 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 46. pp. although subordinate in an institutional hierarchy. there is Musner’s question whether the Catholic Church was a “collaborating agency. famously insisted that anyone who spoke of the mafia wished Sicily ill. their members specialized in guarding crops. banditry. identified with left causes and eventually left the priesthood to join the Communist Party—this despite the fact that his brother. The cosche of the orchards to the north and west of Palermo were closer to and heavily involved in the city’s produce markets and port. an “exemplary protagonist” if ever there was one. Fox. revolutionary movements. Much of this zone was also given over to orchards and gardens. At another level.) But we can try. Cardinal Ruffini. We could not agree more and have addressed this issue in our broader work. “Writing against culture. to learn from the new historiography of the Sicilian mafia (see especially Lupo (1984. that banditry. the archbishop of Palermo. typically criminalize all manner of protest. we might hypothesize subtle differences in the cultural production of the mafias of these two zones. was a leader of the local mafia. however. In light of Wolf’s commitment to comparative case studies. References Cited a b u . August–October 2005 worries may be a “simplistic dichotomy” in our presentation. 1991. already in the late nineteenth century. it is worth considering. But another priest. Returning to Hauschild and following Wolf. kidnapping. enclosures. the cosche of the south and east were less coherent. occupations. robbery. as Thomas Gallant has argued (1999). We thank all who took the time to read and respond. In the 1960s. experienced many cross-pressures. one parish priest. priests have been martyred by assassination. 137–62. Strongly territorial in orientation. and animal theft were the premier crimes of this zone. and geographical categories” underlying “particular cultures of violence and peace”—the Mediterranean climate and landscape were rendered far more harsh and erratic as a consequence of aggressive deforestation. a geographical fault line had appeared between two overlapping yet discrete instances of mafia formation. and commodification—they also appear to flourish in terrain that is very expensive if not impossible to police. the Sicilian church was closely allied with the Christian Democratic Party. geomorpological. banditry and crime are extraordinarily hard to delineate. Ribeiro Latin America). in which the materiality of the environment (interior and coast) as well as the materiality of reproducing a livelihood played a role. but these were interspersed with large towns of the sort that characterize the latifundist interior. in turn the architect of “that wicked deal” with the mafia. a notorious vote-getter for the party. as did the lesser concern of mafiosi with strictly territorial activity.

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