Perhaps the most difficult and intriguing question about the Sicilian mafia is how, given the gross behaviors that set it apart from normal society, it became so thoroughly intertwined with elements of that society. A first approximation hinges on an argument one often hears debated by antimafia activists: that killers on the scale of Giovanni Brusca are an outgrowth of the “long 1980s, ” when the mafia was distorted by trafficking in drugs. Although many concede this point, they are quick to add that the older, “traditional” mafia—the agrarian mafia even—was also capable of much brutality. The disturbingly gruesome photographs by Nicola Scafidi include, among other horrors of the 1950s, the tenyear-old boy killed by mafiosi during a shootout for control of the Ficuzza forest. His body is laid out on a slab in the morgue of Corleone with his weeping mother next to him and his high-top mud-caked shoes set out below (see fig. 8).
The question forms part of a larger discussion at the core of today's antimafia process: how to locate responsibility for the mafia, or, in other words, who to blame. This means trying to assess the relative contribution to mafia formation of, on the one hand, locally generated history and culture—”ways of being Sicilian”—and, on the other hand, “external forces” emanating from Italy and beyond. Although not mutually exclusive, these elements are weighted differently by different analysts, with consequences not only for social theory but also for the strategies and targets of intervention.