Fear guards the lemon grove



Here’s a link to the project page, where you can find the images of the series.

The Sicilian mafia is probably the most famous criminal organization in the world. It’s been known to exist at least since the 1870s, when a Sicilian landlord documented how a local group of mafia members threatened and harassed his business to the point that he had to escape from the island. Over the years, the Cosa Nostra and its North American offshoots have been depicted in numerous books, movies and works of popular culture. Yet the origins of the mafia have been regarded as something of a mystery. What factors explained its sudden appearance in Sicily after Italy’s unification in 1860-61? Were the mafiosi truly ‘men of honor’, as they called themselves, protecting poor, ordinary citizens from an oppressive state? Recently it has been shown that a major catalyst for the rise of the mafia in Sicily was, somewhat surprisingly, the surge in demand for lemons and oranges that began in the first half of the 19th century.” 
(Arcangelo Dimico, Alessia Isopi and Ola Olsson, 2023) 

The book ‚Fear Guards the Lemon Grove‘ by Klaus Pichler is the result of an artistic research process about the rise of the Cosa Nostra in the second half of the 19th century, and the connection with the lemon trade. It is based on the scientific paper ‚The Market for Lemons: Origins of the Sicilian Mafia‘ (The Journal of Economic History 77, 2017), where three economists have proven this connection through the analysis of two historic datasets on agriculture, social structure and crime. This book is not only an attempt to explain the history of the Mafia, but also to take it as a blueprint for contemporary cases, where, according to the economic principle of the ‚resource curse‘, the abundance of resources leads to the rise of crime and the erosion of democracy. The lemons of this book can therefore be seen as a symbol for similar current cases, circling around precious materials like gold, diamonds, crude oil or rare earths. 

During two extended stays in Sicily, Klaus Pichler has photographed a number of sites and locations connected to the early Cosa Nostra. He has tried to find remnants of the agricultural past of Sicily, collected historic images from archives, newspapers and books, and compiled quotes about the connection between Cosa Nostra and lemon trade. ‚Fear guards the lemon grove‘ features a selection of the gathered material, arranged like a passage through the different stages of the rise of the Cosa Nostra, all connected through the impact of the lemon boom in Sicily in the second half of the 19th century. 

Photo book, published by Fw:Books, Amsterdam.

Softcover, 165 x 235 mm, 208 pages

First edition, 2024.  € 38,- plus P&P.

Design by Hans Gremmen, 2024

Published by Fw:Books

Distribution by Idea Books

Text ‘Origins of the Sicilian Mafia’ by Arcangelo Dimico, Alessia Isopi and Ola Olsson

ISBN: 978-90-833459-5-6