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DIPA in Florence hosts conference on mafia
DIPA in Florence hosts conference on mafiaApril 11, 2006Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
In another example of integration and active exchange with the local community by the Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA) at its overseas centers, on April 12, Syracuse University Florence (SUF) will host a special conference on the mafia and the ever-present threat it poses to the Italian state. Participating in the conference will be the Italian attorney general responsible for mafia investigations, as well as the presidents of the regions of Calabria and Tuscany. The conference is being held in conjunction with the Week of the South and the round-table discussion that the SUF Lecture Series Program is organizing for March, “Mafia e Legalita.”
Representatives of the association of Italian students from the University of Calabria, called I Giovani della Locride (The Youth of Locride) will also attend. These young university students formed their group, now well known in Italy, to counter the mafia mentality with a fresh, youthful perspective. They will be SUF’s guests in Florence for three days to give informal lectures and open a discussion in the Italian language classes on mafia. They will then participate in the round-table discussion in the presence of Florentine, Calabrese and international notable speakers.
This round-table discussion will focus on the fight against the mafia. Despite being an old problem that dates back to the unification of the country during the middle of the nineteenth century, organized crime is still affecting Italian legality and the political system today. Florence itself has recently paid a high price to the mafia, which put a bomb in the town center near the Uffizi Museums in 1993, causing several casualties and damaging the museum’s precious artworks. Since then, mass media and political attention toward organized crime has subsided, to re-emerge again only after the assassination of the vice president of the Calabrian Regional Parliament, Francesco Fortugno, in October 2005. This homicide has shown that organized crime is still alive, and represents a serious threat to the Italian state.
The roundtable will compare voices and experiences of everyday anti-mafia engagement, such as those of Tuscan and Calabrese public administrators, of Italian national justices and of Calabrese students’ associations. The comparison between diverse personal, professional and regional experiences is aimed at providing useful indications to both students and the general public regarding the most appropriate responses in order for Italy to proceed toward a more solid, complete and general confirmation of legality.
With this initiative, students are asked to become volunteer guides of the non-profit cultural association “Ars et Fides” (a prestigious association connected to L’Opera del Duomo). Young Italian volunteer tour guides will train them to lead tours in two beautiful churches, the Duomo and Santa Trinita. Students will report about this experience in their Italian language classes.
SUF has been one of several of DIPA’s international campuses to create more exchange among the visiting students and the local community members by developing and presenting cultural programs that give back to residents in the host cities and towns.