Feliciana Chiaradia

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Feliciana Chiaradia is a researcher in the History of Art. She pursued her studies at Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and La Sapienza University of Rome. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Romance Studies (2018) with a specialization in Linguistics from Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in Munich, where she conducted an experimental thesis in cognitive linguistics exploring metaphor as a grammatical device, viewed as a potential melting pot for dysphemistic categorization related to grammatical gender.

Subsequently, she obtained a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication (2021) and Film and Media Culture (2022) from Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in Munich. For her final project for the former degree, titled “Belonging or not belonging? That is the question. A reflection on identities in the Mazara del Vallo community: between the red prawn war and the idyll of cross-cultural resonance”, Feliciana conducted an analysis of a critical incident. The study delved into the limitations of citizenship associated with the ius sanguinis law in Italy, the consequences of rigid norm interpretation, and identity troubles related to second-generation immigrants.

For her Master’s thesis in Film and Media Culture, she explored the organization of spaces in Agnès Varda’s documentaries, analyzing the filmmaker’s implications starting from her movements to understand the shift from an “implicit” to an “explicit” narration, establishing its degree and functionality in relation to theories of spaces and cinematographic techniques.

Her current research focuses on the (self-)representation of identities within two specific groups: the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria (Italy) and the Cartel de Sinaloa in Mexico.


The (new) places of the (de-)construction of Mafia Identities: Between the ´Ndrangheta and the Cartel de Sinaloa

Feliciana Chiaradia’s research will investigate the emergent areas for the (de)construction of Mafia identities through a cross-media examination. This specific investigation centers on an in-depth examination of the illiberal practices and organizational frameworks inherent within the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and Mexico’s Cartel de Sinaloa. Despite the geographical distance between Mexico and Italy, the overarching objective of this study is to elucidate the interconnected narratives, development, and media portrayals of the ‘Ndrangheta and Cartel de Sinaloa. By a qualitative analysis that traverses various historical, spatial, and self-representational dimensions, the conceptual framework of mafia territories shelds light on the characteristics, digital development, and expectations of mafia entities entrenched within border regions.

As underlined by O’Donnell (1982), even within democratic frameworks, there exist realms where the state falls short in ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights and the upholding of the rule of law. The typical topoi in the representation of organized crime, “the street”, “la strada”, “la rue”, “la calle”, not only bear historical significance but also contribute significantly to the molding of new identities. This place/not-place, unfolds both through instances of “negative transfer”, as exemplified by the plight of “meninos de rua”, and through instances marked by a notably positive resonance within society. Moreover, the advent of novel technologies has engendered fresh arenas for physical and digital encounters. The Mafia, with its intricate organizational framework, is increasingly viewed on a global scale as a “business” endeavoring to propagate its overarching “vision” and “mission”. Herein, the cultivation of distinct values and self-representations among its adherents assumes increasing importance (cf. Ravveduto 2023). Notably, the concept of “trust” also finds expression through a certain emotional “involvement” (cf. Bolter/Grusin 1999), which, if contextualized within a gaming framework, assumes particular significance.

New modes of representation wield significant influence in shaping Mafia identities. The evolution of Mafia structures occurs in tandem with technological advancements, proliferating within the new “non-places” of communication. These digital realms foster bonds wherein individuals perceive a reflection of themselves. Yet, ultimately, they engender a form of “illusion” akin to that expounded by de Certeau (1990), as interactions unfold amidst avatars maintaining a semblance of “virtual reality”, thereby fostering a sense of “alienation” (cf. Interview with Marc Augé @CCCB).

The concepts of “alienation” and “affiliation” assume key roles within discourses surrounding identity formation in general, and in particular in the ‘Ndrangheta and Cartel de Sinaloa. The prospect of self-recognition serves as a foundational pillar for the cultivation of values, inciting a resonance that echoes deeply. As observed by Ebner (2021), the issue of identity among young recruits often stems from a problematic self-image or fragile self-esteem. Through a qualitative analysis of data procured from the “Associazione Magna Grecia”, in conjunction with Ravveduto’s work (2023) analyzing Mafia affiliates’ social media presence, it becomes feasible to discern the constituent elements contributing to the construction of Mafia identities. This, in turn, facilitates a comparative examination regarding the self-identity formation evident within the personas and endeavors of Mafia combatants. Furthermore, an analysis draws parallels between borderlands as physical locales and their digital counterparts.

In the battle against social injustices and the effects of organized crime throughout communities, the profound impact of art and artists’ work, such as JR’s reinterpretation of spaces and their reception, must not be underestimated. By amalgamating art with societal issues and transposing them onto dissimilar locales, JR has transcended conventional boundaries within the realm of artistic expression. Here, the reception by viewers assumes a pivotal role in fostering dialogue and deconstructing global identities.