Debate on the antimafia movement has placed the phenomenon mainly in the urban
civil society tradition of new Italian social movements. While acknowledging the
resonance of antimafia mobilization in this context, this article explores a different
tradition, wherein struggles against the mafia in Sicily are analysed alongside, and in
constant interconnection with, the development of the agrarian cooperative
movement of the island. Focusing on the Alto Belice area of western Sicily, the
article argues that antimafia politics evolved from an association with agricultural
workers’ cooperativism in an anti-middleman direction after the 1950s land reform.
Moreover, it assesses ethnographically how this tradition has influenced actors in the
contemporary, largely successful, movement of antimafia cooperatives that cultivate
land confiscated from the mafia by the Italian state. It examines how these actors link
to this genealogy, associating their contemporary activity, in largely imaginary ways, to
this history of struggles, and claiming inheritance over it.