Paula M. Salvio

Professor of Education - College of Liberal Arts

Professor Salvio traveled to Sicily in July to continue research on the anti-mafia movement in Palermo and Corleone.

"Archives of Feeling: The Anti-Mafia Movement as Public Pedagogy"

Paula Salvio, left, in Palermo with activist Pina Grassi and Edo Zaffutto, one of the founding members of Addiopizzo. Grassi’s husband, Libero Grassi, was murdered in 1991 by the Mafia after he refused to pay the ‘pizzo,’ the mafia extortion fee.
Paula Salvio, left, in Palermo with activist Pina Grassi and Edo Zaffutto, one of the founding members of Addiopizzo. Grassi’s husband, Libero Grassi, was murdered in 1991 by the Mafia after he refused to pay the ‘pizzo,’ the mafia extortion fee.

With funding from the Center for International Studies in Education, an English Language Learners Co-op grant awarded to the Department of Education through the United States Department of Education, and a Professional Development Grant from the Office of the Provost, I traveled to Palermo and Corleone to conduct interviews and do archival research for a book-length project on the Italian anti-mafia movement. The book is tentatively titled “Archives of Feeling: The Anti-Mafia Movement as Public Pedagogy.” The work grows out of my previous scholarship on educational and cultural responses to historical trauma and on education’s conversations about social justice and citizenship. Given that transnational criminality has come to influence the post Cold-War era and the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, scholarship on the anti-mafia movement and its implications for social justice curricula is particularly timely.

Currently, transnational crime accounts for 20 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product and is recognized as one of our century’s most robust growth industries. My book focuses on what is perhaps the most iconic high profile form of organized crime – the Italian mafia or mafias – in order to portray an exemplary international anti-crime social movement whose roots are in Sicily and that has been active since the late 1980’s. Forged around suppressed affective life, half-spoken histories, and experiences of violence that are ignored by institutional, international and public memory, the anti-mafia movement extends itself to school curricula, low-budget photographic, cinematic, and digital projects, agricultural cooperatives, web-based campaigns and ritualized performances to initiate and sustain ethical standards for civic engagement.

During the month of July, I met with organizers of the anti-extortion cooperative Addiopizzo (which literally means ‘goodbye pizzo’ the Italian term for the extortion fee). This group was formed by a young group of social entrepreneurs in Palermo in 2004 and now includes over 400 members, including many of the best bars, restaurants, galleries, hotels and shops (see http://www.addiopizzo.org/english.asp). Primarily funded by the redistribution of seized mafia goods, Addiopizzo partners with schools, businesses, courts of law and agriturismos to educate citizens to be critical consumers and to work toward establishing and sustaining an ethical economy.