Robin Pickering-Iazzi’s Dead Silent: Life Stories of Girls and Women Killed by the Italian Mafias, 1878-2018 is the first history of its kind in English. An open access ebook, this study literally “unburies” the identities of over two-hundred girls and women who lived in Italy between 1878 and 2018, and were killed by members of the organized crime from different regions of Italy, including the camorra (Naples), Cosa Nostra (Sicily), ’ndrangheta (Calabria), and the United Sacred Crown (Puglia). By providing their background, the circumstances of their deaths, and the often unsatisfactory (if any) legal conclusions of their stories, this impressive counter-archive of the past raises several related questions on the women of Dead Silent. Some played a role within the clan, others were simply mafiosis’ daughters or wives, many had no relationship at all with the mafia and were killed accidentally, others were kidnapped for a ransom, and, finally, some were well known antimafia judges or journalists. How are the women’s individual stories related, as a whole, to the collective issue of the mafia in their communities? How do they become “bodies of evidence” and connect with the “history of the Italian nation”? In which ways does the form of the catalog, which Dead Silent adopts, replace the lack of commemoration and justice? But the most important issue that emerges concerns the study’s open access format: In addition to the broader circulation and availability (and the resulting security issues), what are the other positive effects that open-access can inherently produce? How does this format assert the scholar’s freedom and responsibility in the larger society?
Nicoletta Marini-Maio is co-founder and editor of g/s/i-gender/sexuality/italy. Recent scholarly publications center on Italian cinema, particularly the intersections between politics, gender power relations, and collective memory; and auteur cinema. Her current book project is La nazione Winx: coltivare la future consumista/Winx Nation: Grooming the Future Female Consumer, a collaboration with Ellen Nerenberg (forthcoming, Rubbettino, Italy).