Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Giuseppe Fidotta, Film and Moving Image Studies

Antimafia/Media: Value, Imaginary, and Community in Western Sicily

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Antimafia/Media examines the multifarious ways through which the antimafia movement and the local culture industry have fed each other in the last two decades, while also benefiting from and capitalizing on the global popularity of the Sicilian mafia. Grounded on an ethnographic approach, the dissertation demonstrates how the crime syndicate, currently undergoing what is probably the worst crisis in its century-long history, has morphed into a symbolic resource widely mobilized by the local culture industry to attain credibility, legitimacy, and economic gains. By attending to the work of a variety of cultural actors in and out former capital of the mafia Palermo, it maintains that the local culture industry's re-elaborations of mafia history and mythology enabled the circulation of a politically deleterious imaginary of the syndicate grounded on its cinematic mediations rather than on its actual manifestations. The emergence of this easily accessible and commodified movie-made mafia imaginary underpins the current surge of mafia-themed cultural production, which I chart out in relation to the workings of the film and television, tourism, and cultural heritage industries. Through a wide range of cases ethnographically documented spanning from mafia museums and tourist tours to the making of a TV series belonging to the popular genre of mafia television, Antimafia/Media illuminates largely unknown forms of cultural production that nonetheless have a massive impact over Sicily's social and economic life. Moreover, it explores the ambivalent complicity of the hegemonic faction of the antimafia movement toward mafia-themed cultural production, arguing for a reassessment of the entanglements of activism, social imaginary, media making, and cultural politics in light of the ongoing economic recession and social distress affecting the region.

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