HIST 395(S) Comparative History of Organized Crime*
Inextricably embedded in political systems, economies, civil societies, and cultures, organized crime groups are a powerful and expansive phenomena fueled by businesses from the international drug trade to human trafficking and protected by their violent and extortionate methods. This course examines the rise and expansion of organized crime in Italy and the United States, as well as Japan and Russia, to explore how and why organized crime emerges in certain societies, what shapes its development into sophisticated and powerful enterprises, and how it continues to exist. We will also address how organized crime has inspired popular imaginations with ideas of a vast underworld empire distinctly modern in business operations yet traditional in structure and codes of behavior. Topics will include the transition from disorganized gangsterism to organized crime, its structure and business enterprises, its influence on politics and economics, how certain organized crime groups rise in certain cities, the impact of globalization on organized crime, myths about organized crime and its history, and how portrayals of organized crime in popular cultures have changed over time. Format: discussion/lecture. Evaluation will be based on class participation, response papers, one research paper (15 pages), and a self-scheduled final exam.
No prerequisites. No enrollment limit (expected: 20). Open to all. Groups A, B and C