«Popes, cupolas and tangerines»: Religiosity and Identity in the Words of Mafia Boss Michele Greco
This contribution aims to examine the religious dimension in the personal narratives of mafia boss Michele Greco in relation to issues of identity loss and reconstruction. Known as the “Pope” of Cosa Nostra, Michele Greco, prominent boss and head of the mafia Commission until the early 1980s, emerged from the maxi-trial of Palermo as a deeply ambiguous figure. If, from the one hand pentiti (mafia defectors) described him as «a puppet in the hand of the Corlenese faction», on the other he demonstrated cunning abilities in manoeuvring his role behind the scenes of the Second Mafia War. Repeated appeals to faith and memoirs embedded with biblical citations further added to this ambiguity, becoming a crucial component of his social identity and media representations. Adopting case study analysis and drawing on an interdisciplinary approach that bridges insights of Symbolic Interactionism, Identity Theory and Narrative Performance Studies, this contribution seeks to analyse the religious dimension in selected personal narratives of Michele Greco (interviews, memoirs, court hearings) in relation to issues of loss and reconstruction of self-identity. Data for analysis are derived from judicial papers, parliamentary reports and video-footage.