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Research article

'Mezzogiorno di fuoco e sangue': Narratives of Organized Crime and Stereotypes of the South in Songs from Northern and Central Italy

Author:

Marcello Messina

Universidade Federal da Paraíba, BR
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Abstract

Popular Italian culture has grown ever more interested in the interpenetration between organized crime, state activities and transnational economic processes. However, while these narratives productively analyse—and denounce—the macroeconomic processes underscoring illegal and harmful practices, they also often complement such economic analyses by perpetuating stereotypical characterizations of the people involved in the crimes. In this article, I analyse popular music across five decades, in order to assess the ways in which the denunciation of state crime is persistently connected with clichéd representations of the modes of existence that allegedly characterize Southern Italian populations. Focussing on acclaimed political songs by Northern and Central Italian acts, namely I Giganti, Fabrizio De André, Litfiba, Frankie Hi-NRG and Fabrizio Moro, the article identifies the textual, musical and extra-musical elements that resort to stereotyping Southern Italians in order to make a point about state-driven illegality. I argue that this type of ethnically biased narrative may paradoxically result in a symbolic absolution of the State, in a way that all responsibility for illicit and harmful practices is attributed to Southern communities.
How to Cite: Messina, M. “'Mezzogiorno di Fuoco e Sangue': Narratives of Organized Crime and Stereotypes of the South in Songs from Northern and Central Italy”. New Readings, vol. 17, no. 2, 2020, pp. 91–104. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/newreadings.116
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Published on 30 Dec 2020.
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