Wildcats learn how social media assists antimafia culture

Bret Belden

      UNH students and faculty were treated Wednesday afternoon to a lecture by Professor Robin Pickering-Iazzi, courtesy of the UNH Department of Classics, Humanities and Italian Studies.

        Pickering-Iazzi, a professor of Italian and comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, lectured on her recent book, “The Italian Antimafia, New Media and the Culture of Legality.”

    “The Mafia today is still a fact of life in Italy,” Pickering-Iazzi said. “These organizations go where the money is, and are as integrated into social media as anyone. Buyers of drugs can make purchases online for home delivery. The internet facilitates human trafficking. Toxic waste disposal and the selling of fake goods all can be used to fund Mafia activities.”

     Pickering-Iazzi described the new tech savvy Mafia as the “2.0 Cosa Nostra.”

      “The younger generation is challenging the ancient Code of Silence,”  Pickering-Iazzi said. “Both the old and the young are embracing an  Italian culture of legality, and they are being very courageous by speaking out. Democracy, truth and justice are revered by the general populace, who aspire to live together in society.”

        Pickering-Iazzi also showed a compelling video profiling the plight of Mafia protesters in present-day Italy. Entitled “Ipercussonici – Quannu Moru, Faciti ca nun Moru!” (translated as “When I die, make it so I don’t die!”), it features the young and old together dancing to music and wearing paper masks. On their masks were the faces of the fallen soldiers of the Antimafia movement, including judges Giovanni Falcone and Francesca Morvillo. Both were killed in the Capaci bombing of 1992, along with three of their bodyguards.

      Several UNH faculty members were in attendance, along with students from their classes.

      Professor Amy Boylan, who introduced the guest speaker, teaches Cultural History of the Mafia (ITAL 425) at UNH.

      “Much of the impetus for the antimafia culture came from the tragic events of 1992,” Boylan said. “I agree that today’s generation is very courageous to be speaking out.”

        Pickering-Iazzi spoke of how the movement is connecting the past, present and future of Italy. She also had an innovative idea for the audience in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) theater.

       “I would like you to take out your electronic devices,” Pickering-Iazzi said. “Feel free to take pictures of the video, and share them on the social media outlet of your choice. That way, we can activate the movement among young people in the states.”

      Students in attendance acknowledged that they learned a lot about a movement they were not familiar with.

     “It’s fascinating how the Antimafia movement is utilizing online resources,” freshman Lauren Flynn said.

     “The social media angle is new to me as well, and seems beneficial to the movement’s cause,” Madison Savoy, a freshman in the Human Development and Family Studies program, said.

      Pickering-Iazzi is also the author of several other books and articles on topics regarding Italian culture and feminism.