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Migration and Mafia Activities: An Ethnographic Analysis of Italian Migrants’ Criminal Practices in Belgium

Marco De Biase
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Marco De Biase
Université Libre de Bruxelles
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Abstract

This research aims to study the social, political, and economic processes which encourage the spread of criminal and mafia practices among Italian migrants in Belgium. I reject the assumption that the development of mafia practices is based on the export of crime through cultural ties with the societies of origin of Italian migrants. I hypothesize that those practices evolve in immigration contexts where specific political and economic factors foster migrants’ integration into criminal careers. I focus on the restoration and food import/export sectors in which Italian criminal networks have greatly invested in recent decades. I contrast migrants’ native society (here: Southern Italy) with spaces of immigration to understand continuities and discontinuities in the production of mafia practices. This presentation is ethnographically based and draws on biographical collection and participant observation, carried out through direct involvement in commercial activities in the sectors of interest.