An Ethnography of Deadly Silence
“The Mafia? What is the Mafia? Something you eat? Something you drink? I don’t know the Mafia. I have never seen it.” So said Mommo Piromalli, a ‘Ndrangheta crime boss, to a journalist in the seventies. In Mafiacraft, Deborah Puccio-Den explores the Mafia’s reliance on the force of silence, and undertakes a new form of ethnographic inquiry that focuses on the questions, rather than the answers.
For Puccio-Den, the Mafia is not a stable social fact, but a cognitive event shaped by actions of silence. Rather than inquiring about what has previously been written or said, she explores the imaginative power of silence and how it gives consistency to special kinds of social ties that draw their strength from a state of indetermination. What methods might anthropologists use to investigate silence and to understand the life of the denied, the unspeakable, and the unspoken? How do they resist, fight, or capitulate to the strength of words, or to the force of law? In Mafiacraft, Puccio-Den’s addresses these questions with a fascinating anthropology of silence that opens up new ground for the study of the world’s most famous criminal organization.