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The name 'ndrangheta: history versus etymology

Dickie, John; (2023) The name 'ndrangheta: history versus etymology. Modern Italy , Article PII S1353294423000170. 10.1017/mit.2023.17. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The article uses archival sources to critique the currently dominant etymological approach to the history of the word ’ndrangheta as used to refer to the Calabrian mafia. Scholars such as Paolo Martino and John Trumper have latched onto the word's ancient Greek origins to argue that the mafia organisation that we today call ’Ndrangheta has origins dating back many centuries. Moreover, according to Martino in particular, the flattering connotations of the word ’ndrangheta (courage, martial prowess, manliness) indicate that the ’Ndrangheta as a social phenomenon was rooted in the same positive values, and that it only later degenerated into criminality. This article proposes that the work of Martino and Trumper represents a largely evidence-free extension of etymology into the field of history. Analysing the latest archival evidence about the word from criminal trials conducted in the 1920s and early 1930s, and setting it in the context of current historiography and criminology on the ’Ndrangheta, the article argues that two conclusions about the history of the word are likely: that the use of ’ndrangheta as a name for the Calabrian mafia began at around the time it first appeared in the documentary sources; that the first to adopt it were mafiosi themselves.

Type: Article
Title: The name 'ndrangheta: history versus etymology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/mit.2023.17
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/mit.2023.17
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Area Studies, History, 'ndrangheta, mafia, organized crime, etymology, TRANSLATION, MAFIA
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10171254
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