[conférence] The Representation of Organised Crime in Media Discourse: the case of Italy’s “lesserknown Mafias”. Giuditta Caliendo (Laboratoire STL, UMR 8163, Université de Lille)

Conférence du séminaire Praxiling. 2 décembre 2019. 14h-15h. Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3. ITIC (bâtiment E), rez-de-chaussée. Salle Jourda.

Over the last decades, Italian mafia associations have been increasingly adding a transnational economic dimension to their original territorial matrix (Longo 2010). As a consequence of these organizations going global, the fight against organised crime has started to gain priority in the agenda of the European Union (Allum/Den Boer 2013), which has recently issued numerous provisions to increase the problem’s visibility and develop public awareness as a step towards more efficient crimefighting actions (Caliendo/Scotto di Carlo, forthcoming). This study seeks to investigate, from a linguistic perspective, the way in which globalised organised crime has been represented over the last decade through audio-visual media aimed at an international audience, highlighting the constitutive role of discourse in constructing the identity of one of the most powerful Italian crime syndicates today, the Neapolitan Camorra (Europol 2013: 12). In line with Carrapiço (2010: 43), this study intends to approach “the concept of organised crime as a social construction enabled through the power of discourse”. The analysis of the discursive representation of this mafia group is based on a corpus of international video documentaries released in English (as original language or via audiovisual translation) over the decade 2007-17 by a number of Italian and Anglophone producers. This study’s main research hypothesis is that the construction of the Camorra as a global criminal entity is performed via multiple modes of meaning-making in the genre of expository documentaries. The interplay between verbal and visual semiotics in the corpus under scrutiny plays a constitutive role in that it shapes the way this ‘lesserknown’ mafia is perceived by the public beyond Italy’s borders. In defining and representing the Camorra, its idiosyncratic traits and the social actors inhabiting its universe (criminals and their victims/public antagonists), the media have a considerable impact on the public understanding of this phenomenon across cultures, which is considered as a first crucial step in the fight against organised crime. In the light of the above, this study seeks to observe whether, in international media discourse: (i) this now transnational mafia group is still portrayed as a marginal/ local phenomenon; (ii) its unique features and idiosyncratic practices are sufficiently represented so as to highlight this group’s autonomy vis-à-vis the more widely known Cosa Nostra, which has long secured a stronghold in public imagination.

Allum, F. / Den Boer, M. 2013. United we stand? Conceptual diversity in the EU strategy against organized crime. Journal of European Integration, 35(2), 135–150.
Caliendo, G. / Scotto di Carlo, G. (Forthcoming. Définir et traduire les délits mafieux dans l’Union européenne. In Caliendo, G., Oster, C. (eds), Traduire et Représenter la Criminalité. Lille: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.
Carrapiço, H. 2010. The Evolution of the European Union’s Understanding of Organized Crime and its embedment in EU discourse. In Allum, F. et al. (eds), Defining and Defying Organized Crime. Discourse, Perceptions and Reality. London: Routledge, 43-54.
Europol 2013. Threat Assessment on Italian Organised Crime. Available at: <https://www.europol.europa.eu/publications- documents/threat-assessment-italian-organisedcrime> (Last accessed: November 2019). Longo, F. 2010. Discoursing Organized Crime: Towards a Two Level Analysis? In Allum, F. / Longo, F. / Irrera, D. / Kostakos, P. A. (eds), Defining and Defying Organised Crime. Discourse, Perceptions and Reality. London: Routledge, 15–28.

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