This paper analyses the role of aggression as an integrative force in society through a study of the complex social system in the city of Siena, based on a territorial division of the city into 17 wards or contrade which compete against one another in the twice yearly race, known as the Palio. This is a highly ritualised event culminating in a wild horse race run around the stunningly beautiful medieval main square known as Piazza del Campo. This race has played a fundamental role in the social structure and welfare of the town. The following analysis compares a variety of theoretical frameworks in relation to the case study, within which it seeks to locate the source of the
aggressive and competitive dynamics and their `affective intensity' (Massumi, 1996) or `enjoyment' (Zizek, 1993). Possible agreement on an instinctual or biogenetic source of these as unconscious inevitable dynamics leads to the need to re-evaluate the possible advantage of a more positive inclusive outlook. This appears to be the secret of Siena's success. The issues outlined can be seen as
highly relevant to broader social issues such as rising levels of aggression in cities, ethnic conflicts, and football violence, to name a few.
Crociani-Windland, L. (2003). What can’t be cured… may be enjoyed. Integrative dynamics and Siena's Palio