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Festivals, Affect and Identity

Festivals, Affect and Identity

A Deleuzian Apprenticeship in Central Italian Communities

By Lita Crociani-Windland

This book offers an illustration of the explanatory power of continental philosophy in relation to the ethnographic study of Siena’s Palio and other community festivals of the Siena Province in central Italy.

Hardback, 224 Pages


October 2011

£70.00, $115.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents

About This Book

‘Festivals, Affect and Identity’ offers an outline of areas of continental philosophy and critical theory, which involve high levels of abstractions, yet become more accessible when related to specific events and their detailed analysis. The case study material enables theories to become more understandable in relation to application, triangulation and comparison with different theoretical frameworks. It puts flesh on the ‘hard to get hold of’ nature of continental philosophy.

Maintaining continuity in the face of problems and ruptures and the interplay of fluidity and structure are central aspects explored and illustrated by ethnography focused on the affective dynamics of four festivals: the Palio in Siena and the Bravio in Montepulciano, both based on competitive territorial divisions; the Bruscello in Montepulciano and the Teatro Povero in Monticchiello, both theatres with links to sharecropping, a long established agrarian practice vanquished by modernity.  The detailed analysis applied to this selection of case studies offers a grounding of theoretical concepts and an example of how these may be applied to analyse different phenomena. This approach sees the imprint of environmental and historical conditions as generative of a dynamic process of ever evolving community identities for which festivals provide expression, while also providing a way of living with them.


‘Crociani-Windland offers an incisive analysis of the intersection of politics, memory, social history and the unconscious in the formation of subjectivity. Combining attunement to the ancestral echoes of her own being, sophisticated psychosocial analysis, and carefully grounded ethnography, the author challenges the dichotomy of past and present, and offers hopeful evidence that in a homogenizing and materializing world, everyday rituals offer powerful potential for the reclaiming of agency and the reclaiming of genealogy and identity in communities.’ —Professor Michael O’Loughlin, Adelphi University, New York, Co-chair of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society

‘A brilliant book! With extensive ethnography, Lita Crociani-Windland captures Siena’s famous Palio and other colourful community festivals in Tuscany. As she shows convincingly, an understanding of the festivals benefits from a Deleuzian perspective. This book will attract a wide readership.’ —Professor Helena Wulff, Stockholm University

‘This is a highly original piece of work, centring upon a theoretical framework which is innovative to say the least – one might even call it adventurous. It combines painstaking and meticulous ethnography with considerable theoretical sophistication and reflexivity in an engaging way that makes the book not only very readable, but immensely enjoyable.’ —Professor Ullrich Kockel, University of Ulster

Author Information

Lita Crociani-Windland is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Fellow of the Centre for Psycho-Social Studies at the University of the West of England, where she also gained her MSc and PhD.


Anthem European Studies

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Acknowledgements; Chapter 1. Introduction; Chapter 2. Learning, Identity, Duration and the Virtual; Chapter 3. Siena and its Province – An Overview; Chapter 4. Siena and the Palio – War and State Machine – Identity and Becoming; Chapter 5. Montepulciano’s Bruscello Theatre – Rupture, Continuity and the ‘Refrain’; Chapter 6. The ‘Problem/Idea’ of Montepulciano – How to be Autonomous in the Face of Overwhelming Force; Chapter 7. Montepulciano’s Bravio Delle Botti – A Festival in the Making; Chapter 8. Sharecropping and Modernity; Chapter 9. Monticchiello – A Community Under Siege; Chapter 10. A Tree with its Roots in the Air – Monticchiello’s Theatre of the ‘Virtual’; Chapter 11. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

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