The Italian mafias abroad: a research agenda
The paper aims to contribute to the debate about the presence and the activities of the Italian mafias in European and extra-European countries, proposing a research agenda on this topic. Taking into account the state of the art of the scientific literature about mafia movements, judiciary sources, and some preliminary findings of an ongoing research project, we specifically focus on two main issues. First, we discuss the problem of recognizing the mafia abroad, referring in particular to two different but closely-related points: 1) the difficulty in distinguishing mafia manifestations in non-traditional territories faced by law enforcement, judiciary institutions, politic and economic actors, media, and ordinary citizens; 2) the balance strategically sought by mafia actors between secrecy and revelation of their belonging to a criminal organization in order to pursue specific objectives. Second, we deepen the mafia presence abroad by identifying three ideal-typical scenarios, each of them driven by a main reason to move: 1) escaping from the original home territory; 2) managing illicit trafficking; 3) investing in the legal economy.
Keywords: Mafia territorial expansion; Mafia recognition; Agency and context factors; Italian Mafia; Organized Crime.