Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo

By Jane C. Schneider; Peter T. Schneider | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
“Cultural Re-education”

From the first phase of the police-judicial crackdown on the mafia, the schools, in particular, were viewed as a vital point of intervention. Both dalla Chiesa and Chinnici pinned their hopes for a reborn Sicily on the as yet unformed generations; Caselli tirelessly spoke to school assemblies—about the role of the pentiti, for example (see fig. 20). Beyond this, educators have made a considerable investment in guiding children to discover their rights as citizens. By such means, the world capital of the mafia is struggling to become the world capital of the antimafia, its past of moral degradation, and violence, giving way to democratic and civic sensibilities. This chapter looks at school programs to “educate for legality” in relation to urban geography, examining their effects—their potentialities and limitations—in neighborhoods that receive, more than they produce, antimafia ideology.


ANTIMAFIA EDUCATION: “EVEN THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS”

The Cervellati plan of 1995 cited 25,000 units built as apartments or houses in Palermo that were rented for purposes other than habitation— a figure much higher than elsewhere in Italy and the reason for amplified congestion in ostensibly residential neighborhoods. Over 10 percent of the housing stock, it alleges, was used for other purposes, mainly administration, at the same time as public buildings stood empty (1995: 53–57).

The distortion affected schools with particular intensity. Already in

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