Giuditta Caliendo

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Linguistics and Discourse Analysis
Associate Professor (Maître de Conférences) of English Language and Translation at the University of Lille

Research project

The Representation of Organized Crime in Multimodal Discourse: The Case of Italy’s "Other Mafias"


The Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta, two crime groups from Southern Italy, have only recently gained international visibility following some key events that marked their "Media outbreak". The best seller "Gomorra" (2006) was translated into English in 2007, introducing for the first time to millions of readers the complex structure of Naples’ crime syndicate, the Camorra. The novel also inspired the homonymous internationally acclaimed film (M. Garrone, 2008) and the crime drama series (2014) which generated unprecedented interest about Naples’ criminal organization. Also in 2007, the massacre of six Italian mobsters in Duisburg gave extensive international media coverage to another previously unknown crime syndicate, the Calabrese ‘Ndrangheta, when for the first time a "vendetta" was pursued outside of Italy’s borders.


These events marked a turning point in the way the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta started to be represented to the general public. The international media began to give higher visibility to these criminal systems—which until then had been highly underrepresented—and raise public awareness on the process of "transnationalization" (Longo 2010:16) that the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta were undergoing, i.e. they were swiftly adapting to a globalized market while maintaining a sub-national and local matrix.


In the light of the above, this study investigates mechanisms of representation of the "lesser-known" mafias beyond Italy’s borders by looking at the audiovisual genre of the expository documentary (Nichols 2001). Documentaries are particularly conducive to our research aims as they do not propose a reproduction of reality, but rather a representation of the world we already occupy. This genre is therefore not merely referential, but can be constitutive of new forms of identity inhabiting the criminal world.


The study draws upon Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), whose central tenet is that discourse is not only socially shaped but also socially "constitutive" (Fairclough 1992) in that it is believed to construct social identities and roles. The study thus relies on CDA to describe the discursive processes involved in the creation and transformation of mafia identities as they shift from a local dimension to a globalized one. Given the multimodal nature of the corpus, the study also draws on the analytical tools of Multimodal Discourse Analysis (Kress/Van Leeuwen 1996, 2001; O’Halloran 2004; Baldry/Thibault 2006; Kress 2010) to analyze the complex interdependencies of written and visual forms of semiosis in constructing criminal identities.




Giuditta Caliendo is Associate Professor (Maître de conferences) in English Language and Translation at the University of Lille and holds a Ph.D in English for Special Purposes from the University of Naples Federico II. She is a former Fulbright Research Scholar (University of Washington) and researches in the fields of specialized translation, legal and institutional discourse, language policies in international organizations and (critical) discourse analysis.


Selected publications


'Expressing Epistemic Stance in University Lectures and TED Talks: A Contrastive Corpus-Based Analysis', with A. Compagnone, Lingue e Linguaggi, vol. 11, 2014, pp. 105-122.


The Language of Popularization: Theoretical and Descriptive Models / Die Sprache der Popularisierung: Theoretische und deskriptive Modelle, with G. Bongo (eds), Peter Lang, Bern, 2014.


'Italy’s Other Mafia: A Journey into Cross-Cultural Translation', Translation and Interpreting Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, 2012, pp. 191-210.


Genre(s) on the Move: Hybridization and Discourse Change in Specialized Communication, with S. Sarangi & V. Polese (eds), Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Naples, 2011.


'Communities, Boundaries and New Neighbours: The Discursive Construction of EU Enlargement', with A. Napolitano, Journal of Contemporary European Research, vol. 4, no. 4, 2008, pp. 322-345.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Economics
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Anthropology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History