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Sicilian Mafia

The Sicilian Mafia is a translocal fraternal organization whose respective local families called cosche (singular, cosca) lay claim to rural communities, urban neighborhoods, and suburbs, primarily in western Sicily. This organization began to coalesce after 1860 when the newly unified Italian state advanced capitalist development. The commoditization of land was especially disruptive, dispossessing peasants of use rights and exacerbating banditry, animal rustling, and the mayhem of regime change. Uprooted men migrated to cities and, after the 1880s, abroad; some joined urban gangs. Amid this turmoil, self-anointed estate guards, rentiers, demobilized soldiers, and fledgling merchants came together in secretive sodalities. Participants presented themselves as vigilantes who, through cultivating a reputation for violence, promised to restore a feudal form of justice. Among other interventions, they shielded landowners ...

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