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(mä`fēä), name given to a number of organized groups of Sicilian brigands in the 19th and 20th cent. Unlike the CamorraCamorra
, Italian secret criminal association in Naples. Of controversial origin, it first came to light in 1830. Its activities spread by intimidation, blackmail, and bribery until Naples was controlled by it.
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 in Naples, the Mafia had no hierarchic organization; each group operated on its own. The Mafia originated in feudal times, when lords hired brigands to guard their estates in exchange for protection from the royal authority. The underlying assumption of the Mafia was that legal authorities were useless and that justice must be obtained directly, as in the vendettavendetta
[Ital.,=vengeance], feud between members of two kinship groups to avenge a wrong done to a relative. Although the term originated in Corsica, the custom has also been practiced in other parts of Italy, in other European countries, and among the Arabs.
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. Italian attempts to curtail the Mafia have suffered from political corruption and the assassination of judges.

Through emigration the organization spread to the United States (where it was sometimes called the Black Hand). In the United States, it became involved in many illegal operations—trade in narcotics, gambling, prostitution, labor union racketeering—and certain legal enterprises, such as trucking and construction. In Nov., 1957, more than 60 of its alleged leaders were surprised at a secret meeting at Apalachin, N.Y. About one third of them were convicted of obstructing justice, but the convictions were reversed on appeal. In recent years, the Mafia has been linked with money-laundering and police corruption and has also been hampered by defections. It slowed its activities in extortion and racketeering in the last decades of the 20th cent., but also has expanded into such white-collar criminal enterprises as fraud in health insurance and sales of prepaid telephone cards and illegal stock market deals and into legitimate businesses such as hotel chains and restaurants.

See also organized crimeorganized crime,
criminal activities organized and coordinated on a national scale, often with international connections. The American tradition of daring desperadoes like Jesse James and John Dillinger, has been superseded by the corporate criminal organization.
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See M. Pantaleone, The Mafia and Politics (tr. 1966); D. Cressey, Theft of the Nation (1969); P. Maas, The Valachi Papers (1969); J. Albini, The American Mafia (1971); N. Gage, Mafia U.S.A. (1972); F. Ianni, A Family Business (1972); J. Fentress, Rebels and Mafiosi: Death in a Sicilian Landscape (2000); T. Reppetto, The American Mafia (2003); J. Dickie, Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia (2004); S. Raab, Five Families (2005); S. E. Scorza, comp., Mafia: The Government's Secret File on Organized Crime (2007); P. Reski, The Honored Society: A Portrait of Italy's Most Powerful Mafia (2013); J. Dickie, Blood Brotherhoods: A History ff Italy's Three Mafias (2014).



a low-lying island in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa. Part of Tanzania. Area, 442 sq km. Composed of coral limestones. The climate is hot and equatorial, with monsoons; there is shrub vegetation. Coconut palms, clove trees, sesame, and rice are cultivated. Copra is exported. The main town is Kilindoni.



(Maffia), a system of social relations unique to the island of Sicily. In particular, the system manifests itself in the steadfast existence and broad diffusion on the island, dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, of a secret organization that uses methods of extra-economic compulsion, violence, terror, and murder. “Mafia” is also the name for this organization. As a social phenomenon the Mafia arose during the disintegration of the feudal order, when productive and social relations were extremely backward and sociopolitical forms in Sicilian society were underdeveloped; it took root in the soil of distorted conceptions of honor, pride, and family and clan ties and grew by the law of “might makes right,” which had existed since feudal times.

In the first half of the 19th century the Mafia organization evidently represented a kind of secret association of the middle rural strata. Its terroristic methods, including blackmail, violence, and murder, were employed in the protection of lands and orchards and in marketing. Gradually the archaic rural Mafia became modernized, adapting itself to new conditions. It possesses specific organizational and even ritualistic forms and has a more or less rigid hierarchical structure; the so-called law of omertd, according to which no one dares betray members or crimes of the Mafia to the police on pain of death, has made the organization almost invulnerable.

In the 20th century the Mafia organization has shifted its activity to towns, penetrating the construction industry, the illegal drug market, and the entertainment industry (especially gambling casinos) and taking root in political life. At election time the Mafia mobilizes votes for a given candidate who, when elected, renders it services in return. The Mafia has close ties with the police, court officials, and certain political circles in Rome.

Under the pressure of democratic forces the Italian government waged an official struggle in the 1950’s and 1960’s against Mafia criminality; a special body, the “Anti-Mafia,” was created for that purpose, and a number of important leaders of the organization were arrested. The Mafia has not, however, ceased functioning.

The Sicilian Mafia is linked closely with other crime organizations in the capitalist countries, particularly gangster organizations in the USA. Mafia organizational forms were introduced into the USA by Italian immigrants from Sicily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The earliest Mafia organization in the USA was known as the Black Hand; it engaged in extortion, blackmail, and robbery. After World War II, the Mafia organization known as the Cosa Nostra, a powerful underworld syndicate, acquired scandalous notoriety.


Rusakov, N. P. Iz istorii sitsiliiskoi mafii. Moscow, 1969.
Pantaleone, M. Mafia e politico: 1943-1962, 2nd ed. Turin, 1962.


What does it mean when you dream about the mafia?

If we do not otherwise have associations with the mafia, then a dream about a mobster can represent the part of us that would like to violate the law and take what we want. Alternatively, a dream mobster could be the part of us that would like to exact some vigilante justice.


sinister crime syndicate promotes violence to achieve goals. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1657]
References in periodicals archive ?
Through this monologue, Fava makes clear to the spectators that they can free themselves from their anima mafiosa only by actively investigating the mafia system and its alternatives, by judging their own role within that system and by creatively transforming their oppressive situation.
Una revision de la literatura publicada antes y despues del articulo de Abad-Faciolince deja constancia de que la narrativa literaria con tema de sicariato y/o narcotrafico ha resultado muy prolifica en Colombia y ha dejado algunas novelas de excelencia literaria sobre las cuales no aplican los calificativos de "truculentas" y orientadas por el "mal gusto" de una estetica mafiosa.
Cuando la mafia amplia su espectro de regulacion hasta abarcar el orden de la sociedad los atributos necesarios para pertenecer a una organizacion mafiosa se convierten en atributos para alcanzar una posicion social superior.
1 Quo Vadis mafiosa para que sus crenchas caigan de una vez.
La red mafiosa de los legionarios tiene una base material, los ingresos economicos que se han manejado con una contabilidad secreta y discrecional ademas de recurrir a su transferencia a paraisos fiscales como Islas Caiman (Aristegui, 2010, p.
Ignorare questo vero e proprio lato oscuro della criminalita mafiosa ha fatto si che si sottovalutassero la capacita relazionale della mafia, la sua capacita di fare rete e la sua agilita nel muoversi abilmente tra sfera legale e sfera illegale dell'economia della societa civile e delle sfere della politica.
Con la descentralizacion y el narcotrafico se formaron poderes bastante dinamicos y autonomos en el campo que lograron una penetracion en las ciudades a partir de una red mafiosa, la cual se fortalecio a partir de la debilidad del Estado (Camacho, 2006).
Paralelamente se produce una importante dependencia de la economia nacional normal de la economia mafiosa.
Para Segato, organizar los datos dispersos de los crimenes de Ciudad Juarez bajo estas coordenadas ilumina el conjunto especifico de los asesinatos, pues lo que emerge es una superposicion precisa entre fraternidad masculina y fraternidad mafiosa, en sentido amplio (Segato, 2007: 29 y ss.
Por el contrario, por ejemplo en Italia, tras la breve etapa de "Mani Pulite", ha crecido la impunidad y a la vez la pretension de impunidad de la criminalidad del poder, asi como la corrupcion y los delitos societarios (falsi in bilancio) y la criminalidad mafiosa de los poderes criminales.
As O'Reilly elicited hard facts from Wheeler, I imagined the mafiosa gangs of black and brown butch-man-looking females doing the evil biddings of no other than The Godmother--Lorena Bobbit
Hacemos un llamado urgente a todos los ecuatorianos y ecuatorianas, en esta hora decisiva que atraviesa la nacion, para cerrar filas ante los intentos de oligarquia mafiosa y apatrida personificada en la candidatura de Alvaro Noboa (.