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The Nature of Mafia: An Environmental History of the Simeto River Basin, Sicily

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This article builds upon a rich scholarship that has proposed, though with different shades, the concept of socionatures, meaning by this the inextricable hybrid of ecological and social facts. In this article, we aim to explore how the Mafia produces particular socionatural formations, entering into landscapes, becoming rivers and cities, penetrating into the bodies of humans and non-humans. We will develop our argument by exploring a specific geographical area, the Simeto River, and how the Mafia has become intertwined with its ecologies. We will analyse the appropriation of the river since the 1950s, illustrating various ways in which the Mafia has blended with its ecologies: the control of water, the touristification of the river’s mouth and the placement of waste facilities. We argue that one crucial feature of Mafia socionatures is the attack against commons, i.e. the attempt to subdue the (re)productive properties of human and more-than-human communities to Mafia economic interests. Therefore, we will propose the practices of commons and commoning – that is, the making of commons – as one of the possible strategies against the Mafia.
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Keywords: Mafia; commons; tourism; waste; water

Appeared or available online: January 1, 2019

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