The Contradas of Siena. Local traditions and global change
Since medieval times the city of Siena is subdivided into 17 neighborhood communities - so-called Contradas -, which until today celebrate contests. Highlight is the semi-annual horse race, the Palio. Warner documents everyday life and festivals in the context of the Contradas in order to trace processes of group formation (inclusion) and exclusion in this society. Using participant observation and interviews Warner presents a picture of the life in Siena and how old traditions are perpetuated in the face of change. Warner discusses the notions of cultural identity, locality and cultural globalization and then introduces the Contradas (origin and history) and in their context: territory, seat (of action) and symbols, membership, organizational structure and festivals as well as everyday life and activities. Then the process of the Palio itself is described, followed by an interpretation. The next chapter discusses relations between the Contradas - territory, symbols, stereotypes, and rivalries. The last chapter deals with relations to the world outside (students, tourists, the media) and Contrada exclusivism.
Keywords: Contradas of Siena, Palio, festivals, cultural competition, identity and performance, performance and identity, territory and identity, inclusion, exclusion