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Kulturwissenschaften: „Systematic Inclusion and Exclusion of Women in Crime Networks in 19th Century Naples“

2017 Mai 5
by Christoph Richter

Systematic Inclusion and Exclusion of Women in Crime Networks in 19th Century Naples

Laura Heitz

Romanistik, Kulturwissenschaften






This presentation will explore mechanisms of systematic inclusion and exclusion of women in the organized Camorra network, one of the biggest crime systems in Italy, located in the region of Campania. It will emerge how women’s initial exclusion from active agency in organized crime, later enabled them to take over substitutional functions once male organizers were imprisoned or persecuted.

The Camorra offers an interesting object of investigation when it comes to interrelations of different kinds of networks such as family and criminal groups. Such criminal network mechanisms were transplanted across the Atlantic in the late 19th century when a great number of peasants from the poor regions of Southern Italy emigrated to the U.S.

The inclusion and exclusion of women in order to maintain illegal activities alive while male actors were temporarily hamstrung (imprisonment etc.) is strongly connected to an empirically observable asymmetry when it comes to the relationship between opposite genders. This asymmetry is an important factor for the absence of women’s networks in response to existing men’s networks. In the 1960’s the assassination of Anna Mazza’s husband, Gennaro Moccia, led not only to a temporary exclusion of men from their leading position but paved the way for a powerful female led empire by Anna Mazza herself. In this case, the exclusion of men as policy makers provoked a destabilization of former established power structures. The lack of male leaders eventually created a vacuum that needed to be substituted by others – women. In the Camorra’s case this substituting criminal role of women has been observable since the mid-19th century. Substituting roles only were open to women in some way related to Camorra men; that is to spouses, siblings, or children. The ambiguous relationship between inclusion and exclusion of women in illegal activities in the Camorra eventually became a key for the success of the crime network.

While women challenged the norm of masculinity inherent in Italian organized crime networks, they also showed loyalty to their husbands, who unwillingly had to vacate their position. Women simultaneously proliferated a structure originally based on the principles of honor and masculinity but also challenge those principles by taking over managerial roles.

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