Book Review: Mafia Life: Love, Death and Money at the Heart of Organised Crime
Posted: 23 Nov 2017

From Review:

In Mafia Life: Love, Death and Money at the Heart of Organised Crime, Federico Varese journeys into the everyday lives of members of different mafia groups across the globe, from the Sicilian Cosa Nostra to the Japanese Yakuza. Drawing on wiretaps, reportage, historical analysis, legal evidence and biography, this book offers readers the opportunity to go beyond the fabricated images of the Mafia usually offered to the public, writes Baris Cayli.

In Mafia Life: Love, Death and Money at the Heart of Organised Crime, Federico Varese offers the reader a journey into the human dimensions of mafia members. Through unfolding stories from the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triads, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian N’Drangheta, the New York Mafia and the Russian Vory-v-Vakone, we obtain new ways of thinking about the existential identity and fragility of different mafia groups across the world.

Further information

Federico Varese is Deputy Head of Department, Taught Courses Director, Professor of Criminology, Director of EXLEGI

Please sir, I want some more: an exploration of repeat foodbank use
Posted: 21 Nov 2017

Elizabeth Garratt's new article in BMC Public Health Please sir, I want some more: an exploration of repeat foodbank use explores the sharp rise in foodbank use in Britain.

• What is new about the study?
Headline figures about the prevalence of foodbank use from the Trussell Trust capture the number of food supplies that are distributed (calculated as the number of food parcels multiplied by the number of recipients) but because people can visit food banks more than once, the overall number of recipients is unknown. This means that no estimate of the proportion of the population who use food banks is possible. Furthermore, almost nothing is known about the number of times that people visit food banks, and whether repeat visits are more common among certain groups. This work presents the first attempt to estimate the scale of UK foodbank use among adults and children by examining receipt of emergency food from West Cheshire foodbank between 2013 and 2015.
The results showed that an estimated one per cent of the population of West Cheshire received emergency food between 2013 and 2015. This proportion was consistently higher among children than adults, and increased slightly over the study period. If this estimate is scaled up nationally, it would equate to approximately 850,000 people in Britain each year.
Detailed analyses revealed that the growth in repeat visits outpaced the increase in total visits, suggesting that foodbank use is becoming more entrenched among certain groups. Repeat visits were more common among working-age and one-person households.
• Is there anything surprising about the results?
Households seeing assistance due to domestic abuse and unemployment made fewer visits, but other reasons for seeking assistance (including changes and delays to benefit payments, debt, low income and poor health) were not associated with the number of food bank visits.
People from all 34 of the foodbank's catchment wards visited the foodbank and represented the full range of area-level income and multiple deprivation, demonstrating that foodbank use is not confined to people living in the most deprived areas.
• Why is the study important? What are the implications?
The study fills a key evidence gap by presenting the first estimate the proportion of adults and children using UK food banks. It shows that while only a minority of people use food banks, this still equates to a substantial number of people. The results indicate that severe levels of poverty are present in contemporary Britain.
Growth in the distribution of emergency food was inflated by a rising number of people visiting the foodbank on multiple occasions, suggesting that for some people using food banks, this behaviour is becoming more entrenched as the circumstances underlying people's food bank use are not addressed. The government has consistently praised food banks, but evidence of long-term foodbank use demonstrates that distributing emergency food is not a long-term solution to the problem of food poverty.
The risks of nutritional deficiencies among food insecure individuals and the high prevalence of mental and physical health problems among people who do not eat adequate diets make ensuring food security for all an urgent public health priority for both practitioners and policy-makers.

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Building the City of Women: creating a site of feminist resistance in a northern Colombian conflict zone
Posted: 02 Nov 2017

Julia Zulver's new article in Gender, Place & Culture discusses feminism as a stragety to mobilise for peace, and the history of the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas.

Abstract

Against all odds, in uncertain and violent times, Colombian women are mobilising for peace. They do so even when they face ongoing violence and personal threats from a variety of armed actors. Despite a well-established tradition of studying women’s social movements in times of conflict, there is a lacuna when it comes to analysing feminism as a mobilisation strategy. This article uses the case study of the League of Displaced Women, the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas (LMD) to illustrate the utility of Zulver’s High Risk Feminism framework to explain how and why women chose to build the City of Women, despite the real and threatened danger that this implied. The article narrates the history of the LMD, from its foundations in a geography of marginality to its creation of a space of resistance for displaced women and their families. In all, this articles demonstrates how feminist resistance has not only become a way of life for the women of the LMD, but also a strategy for creating pockets of safe places in the midst of a conflict zone.

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VITA DI MAFIA: AMORE, MORTE E DENARO NEL CUORE DEL CRIMINE ORGANIZZATO
Posted: 26 Oct 2017

Professor Federico Varese’s newest book is now available in Italian.

M come Mafia. Dalla Russia alla Cina, dalla Grecia a Dubai. Un reportage affascinante e rigoroso che entra nel cuore pulsante delle mafie globali, scritto da un criminologo col talento di un narratore.

Chi sono i mafiosi e come funzionano le loro organizzazioni?  Federico Varese, ha scritto un saggio-reportage che ci fa entrare nel profondo di Cosa Nostra, della mafia italo-americana, della mafia russa, della Yakuza giapponese e delle Triadi di Hong Kong. Per inseguire le storie che racconta è stato in Russia, in Cina, in Grecia, a Dubai e si è avventurato nel nord della Birmania. Con la passione del giornalista investigativo e lo scrupolo dell’accademico, Varese scopre alleanze segrete tra 'Ndrangheta e gruppi georgiani, mappa le nuove rotte della droga e racconta la presenza della mafia russa in Grecia. Esplora come le mafie, in Asia e America latina, sono diventate uno stato. Varese scopre ciò che rende queste organizzazioni temibili e durature: tutte hanno un rito di iniziazione di ispirazione religiosa, regole di comportamento codificate, una struttura gerarchica ma flessibile, rapporti con la politica, e mostrano una diffidenza profonda verso l’amore tra uomo e donna. Varese racconta cosa vedono i mafiosi quando si guardano allo specchio.

Further information

Federico Varese is Deputy Head of Department, Taught Courses Director, Professor of Criminology, Director of EXLEGI

Cultural determinants influence assisted reproduction usage in Europe more than economic and demographic factors
Posted: 10 Oct 2017

A new paper by Patrick Präg and Melinda Mills in Human Reproduction asks 'To what extent do financial, demographic and cultural determinants explain the vast cross-national differences in ART treatments in Europe?'.

Abstract
STUDY QUESTION
To what extent do financial, demographic and cultural determinants explain the vast cross-national differences in ART treatments in Europe?
SUMMARY ANSWER
The normative cultural acceptance of ART is a major driver of ART treatments in Europe, above and beyond differences in country wealth, demographic aspects and religious composition.

Further information

Patrick Präg is Postdoctoral Fellow in Life Course Research