Public Talk by Anna Sergi


Migrating ‘Ndrangheta: cultural bias and cultural differences in the policing of the Calabrian mafia between Italy and Australia

A public Lecture by Dr Anna Sergi, Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Sociology, University of Essex.

International media and popular culture have been perpetuating the presumption that criminals of Calabrian origins around the world must belong to, and replicate the structure of, the mafia-type Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta clans in Italy. This presumption has been largely confirmed by Italian authorities and recently been considered by Australian ones. Without analysis of the mechanisms of mafia mobility, in the particular contexts of Australian cities and communities, there is a danger of replicating flawed conceptualisation of mafias as always hierarchical and monolithic from the USA, while running the risk of missing the true nature of the Calabrian mafia phenomenon and its hybrid forms abroad.

The lecture reflected upon contemporary challenges of policing ethnic mafia-type organised crime groups across borders, when cultural traits of origins are deemed fundamental to the knowledge of the phenomenon, like in the case of the ‘Ndrangheta. By looking at the way the Calabrian mafia is understood, conceptualised and contrasted in Italy and in Australia, this talk will challenge stereotypes and bias from Italian authorities while also assessing the degree of cultural differences of the Calabrian clans abroad from the point of view of Australian law enforcement. Dr Sergei will also discuss the concepts of policing through cultural awareness, as applied to behaviours typical of the “mafia method”, and with an attempt to overcome cultural relativism and ethnocentrism.

Dr Anna Sergi holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Essex, an LLM in Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice from King’s College, London and a specialist law degree from the University of Bologna, Italy. As a lecturer in Criminology at the University of Essex, she specialises in organised crime and mafia studies, from different perspectives, privileging comparative research approaches in policing and criminal justice methods. She has been a visiting fellow in different institutions, including New York University, Flinders University, University of Melbourne, the Australian Institute of Criminology and the University of Montreal. Anna has published articles in various international peer-reviewed journals and is the author of two books, Ndrangheta. The glocal dimensions of the most powerful Italian Mafia, and From Mafia to Organised Crime: a Comparative Analysis of Policing Models, which focusses on the policing of organised crime and mafias in Italy, UK, USA and Australia, both with Palgrave Macmillan. She is currently working on a project on mafia mobility across Europe, Canada and Australia, funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust in the UK.