Mafia and Funerals. Representations, Stereotypes and Identity. The U.S. Case
In collective imagination, mafia funerals are an expression of the power and excess that Mafiosi characteristically embody. In the U.S., writers, directors, journalists, and scholars, have described these funerary practices as a form of popular devotion towards leading figures of the criminal underworld within the Italian-American community. However, a research on the history of mafia-style funeral and the reasons for its success suggests different ways of interpretation. This dissertation will explore the criminal context of Chicago and New York and it will examine the funerary rites within the underworld, from James “Big Jim” Colosimo’s (1920) to John Gotti’s burial (2002). This essay argues that this funeral model – considered as a typical expression of Mafia groups nowadays – is not part of the traditional identity of Italian-American Mafia, but an outcome of the complex underworld of Chicago in the Twenties.