Not the Sopranos, but still a cultural divide

Organised crime networks such as mafia ‘clans’, with links to drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption in high places, are a threat to national security.

University of Essex Lecturer in Criminology Dr Anna Sergi is in Adelaide this week to give a free Flinders University Law lecture on ‘mafia methods’ – particularly pertaining to the Italy’s Calabrian ‘ndrangheta in Australia and Canada.

“The lecture will present some of the Australian sides of the story, with particular attention to the possibility to add cultural elements to the policing of these groups in this country,” she says.

“My current research is looking at Canada and Australia as places of ‘permanent and stable’ ‘ndrangheta presence for more than 70 years,” she says.

“Mafias are to be understood as forms of organised crime which exploit and twist their culture of origin. The Calabrian ‘ndrangheta is an example of this,” Dr Sergi says.

“The ‘ndrangheta – a mafia behaviour and method of doing organised crime – is present in different states.

“Understanding how cultural policing can inform existing policy will help Australia’s fight to manage the mafia here.”

Dr Sergi, who herself has a Calabrian heritage, says her research is informed by a long background in anti-mafia operations in Italy.

She says Australia is one of the few countries in the world where the Calabrian mafia exists alone, without Sicilian and other Italian mafia groups.

From time to time, the mafia attracts the most attention of law enforcement agencies in Melbourne and Adelaide and regional centres in Victoria and South Australia ahead of the other states.

She will ask whether existing Australian policing is adequate in fighting organised crime, and whether inside knowledge and understanding of the culture and ethnicity of the group can help to better manage any threats.

The Centre for Crime Policy and Research at Flinders Law is hosting the return visit by Dr Anna Sergi who also presented a free public lecture at Flinders at Victoria Square, city in 2015.

This year’s lecture, entitled ‘Policing the ‘ndrangheta in Italy and Australia: Cultural Bias and Cultural Differences’ will be held at Room 1, level 1, 182 Victoria Square, Adelaide on Tuesday 15 August from 5.30pm-7pm.

Dr Anna Sergi, who holds a doctorate in sociology, is based at the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. Her research focuses on organised crime studies and comparative criminal justice.

She has published extensively in renowned peer-review journals in criminology on topics related to Italian mafias both in Italy and abroad as well as on policing strategies against organised crime across states.

The Centre for Crime Policy and Research at Flinders have a number of experts in organised crime, including director Professor Andrew Goldsmith, Professor Mark Halsey and Professor David Bright who are undertaking an Australian Research Council study of the role of firearms in criminal life.

Professor Bright is involved in a number of studies with colleagues here and overseas looking at drug and other organised crime networks. As well, Professor Christian Leuprecht, Professor Goldsmith and Dr Russell Brewer are conducting research into radicalisation into terrorism with agencies in Australia and Canada.

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