Transatlantic Smuggling between Mobility and Surveillance

The Mediterranean and the United States, 1930-2000

Andreas Guidi

My current project at the GHI investigates the intersections between the transatlantic mobility of Mediterranean smugglers and the US state efforts to surveil their activities. Using sources from the National Archives as well as private collections hosted at archives in Stanford, CA and University Park, PA, this research makes three interventions in the historiography of illegality. Firstly, it addresses the multilayered and transnational institutional efforts to control the Mediterranean maritime space and its connections with North America to propose an alternative to the continental, state-national, and terrestrial notions of territorialization. Secondly, the project engages with narratives on the globalization of drug trafficking by valuing several scales of analysis and showing that long-distance connectivity heavily depended on trans-local and regional (i.e., intra-Mediterranean) circulations. Thirdly, the project aims at historicizing the notion of “organized crime”: instead of a monographic look on allegedly compact structures such as the Italian “Cosa Nostra” or the Corsican “French Connection”, more attention is given to how less formal configurations came to cooperate with the former in the grey zone between legality and illegality, and to the role that surveillance institutions like the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Drug Enforcement Administration played in the ethnicization of mobile smuggling configurations.