Papi, cupole e mandarini tardivi: Religiosità e identità nelle parole del boss Michele Greco

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This chapter examines the religious dimension of selected personal narratives - interviews, memoirs, court hearings - of mafia boss Michele Greco in relation to issues of loss and reconstruction of identity. 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 (1986-87) 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 so-called second mafia war (1981-83) and the rise to power of the Corleonesi. 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. Drawing on an interdisciplinary approach that bridges insights of Symbolic Interactionism, Identity Theory and Narrative Performance Studies and adopting a data set derived from judicial papers, parliamentary reports and video-footage, the aim of this contribution is to investigate the dynamics at play when dealing with the trauma of leaving Cosa Nostra and the resulting loss of a powerful collective identity.


  • Mafia, Catholic Church, religion, Organised Crime
Translated title of the contributionPopes, cupolas and tangines: Religiosity and identity in the words of mafia boss Michele Greco
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationL'immaginario devoto tra organizzazioni mafiose e lotta alla mafia
Place of PublicationRome
PublisherViella Editrice
ISBN (Electronic)9788867288380
ISBN (Print)9788867285167
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
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