Perhaps one of the most widely read anthropological essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” by Clifford Geertz is available. Shortly after the election, I taught “Notes on a Balinese Cockfight” to my Anthropological Theory class, as I always do, at that point in the. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given.

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But it also behooves us to think about the consequences in the material reality of such alignment between substance and symbol, cock and cock, man and ideology, Trump and the patriarchy. Cockfights were generally illegal in Baljnese when Geertz was doing his fieldwork there in the s.

Anthro Classics Online: Geertz’s Notes on the Balinese Cockfight | Savage Minds

Garage Library is closed from December 30 to January 6. Dockfight only was he there, but he was embraced by the members of the society who loved his clumsy ways. Anonymous January 5, at 1: The title of the essay is explained as a concept of British philosopher Jeremy Bentham —who defines “deep play” as a game with stakes so high that no rational person would engage in it. William Roseberry thinks so.

Doing fieldwork in Taiwan in those years meant, among other things, being constantly aware that certain topics were off-limits. The essay describes how cocks are taken to stand in for powerful men in the bwlinese, and notes that even the double-entendre sense of the word “cock” exists in the Balinese language as much as in English.

We ran down the balonese village street, northward, away from where we were living, for we were on that side of the ring.

Like baljnese lot of people I read the Balinese cockfight article in my anthropological youth and I remember enjoying it although the Person, Time, and Balinesr essay in that same volume was the one that really captured my attention.

But it is a momentary gain or lost, the statues is only gained or lost momentarily following the fight but is maintained in the long run, with cockfights assisting in making sure of that. His research was largely focused on symbolic aspects of collective activities traditions, rites, celebrations, social movements blainese well as on the worldviews and ethics that inform them. Yes, he writes about cocks exactly for the reason you think. That what the cockfight has to say about Bali is not altogether without perception and the disquiet it expresses about the general pattern of Balinese life is not wholly without reason is attested by the fact [what a marvellous example of passive voice and absence of the author] that in two weeks of December balineese, during the upheavals following the unsuccessful coup in Djakarta, between forty and eighty thousand Balinese in a cockfigbt of about two million were killed, largely by one another—the worst outburst in the country.


Except this is not a short story. This is not hyperbole. Material as opposed to what? Social tensions are represented through the cockfight, but after all, it’s just a cockfight.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight by Clifford Geertz

Americans told this story to themselves about themselves — but suddenly it is no longer a story. They would write in the conclusion that through these explicit, and perhaps hyperbolic examples, the author aims to make visible the underlying sexism of our political discourse and praxis.

We look forward to seeing you from January 2. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Participants of the “deep fights” are usually dominant members of society. To ask of any cultural text, be it a cockfight or a folktale, who is talking, who is being talked to, what is being talked about, and what form of action is being called for, is to move cultural analysis to a new level that renders the old antinomies of materialism and idealism irrelevant.

Works cited in this post: Articles needing additional references from June All articles needing additional references. With cockfightt fairly even in the case of a deep fights, financial gain is not the center of the event, but rather everything which is expressed in the concept of “status”.

It channels aggression and rivalry into an indirect symbolic sphere of engagement.

Subscribe to our mailing list and get the latest news from Garage. The cocks are both symbolic and real. This page was last edited on 26 Januaryat Cockfights are illegal and the sudden appearance of the police during one of the first fights Geertz and his wife witnessed sent everyone scurrying home:.

In some ways Geertz is one of the most well known anthropologists outside of the discipline, but my sense is that his influence within the discipline itself has waned. Newer Post Older Post Home. Fighting always takes place between people and cocks from opposing social groups family, clan, village etc. Roney Wilson December 30, at 3: Author Clifford Geertz — was an American anthropologist and sociologist, who wrote extensively on traditional cultures and religions in Southeast Asia and North America.

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Intellectuals have an interesting critical relationship with archetypes, especially when they appear as instances of synecdoche — they are such concentrated semiotic clusters that when they are intentionally deployed in fiction, we are taught to read them as allegory.


I find it particularly troubling that Roseberry, ostensibly a political economist, also manages to elide this political context of the contemporary cockfights in favour of some of the economic aspects of their history which I grant is important, but no more important than the contemporary context.

In ritualistic moments of such synthesis, magical power can be deployed. This is what actually happened in this election. ANd, of course the fact that we can still develop a pretty hearty discussion suggests that the issues raised by Geertz around the time I was born are still far from totally settled.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight – Wikipedia

The problem is to learn how to read them, not to decipher something else going on behind the scenes. Cockfights are illegal and the sudden appearance of the police during one of the first fights Geertz and his wife witnessed sent everyone scurrying home: About half-way down another fugitive ducked suddenly into a compound-his own, it turned out-and we, seeing nothing ahead of us but rice fields, open country, and a very high volcano, followed him.

It seems important to remember that Geertz was himself formed under Talcott Parsons, and that Interpretation of Culture was the big break with that tradition Religion of Java being pretty different. Geertz was one of the most influential figures in symbolic and interpretive anthropology.

Geertz distinguishes “deep fights”, with high wages, and “shallow fights”, usually with low wages of both gambling and prestige. A man who admits to and brags about sexual assault is about to be inaugurated instead of a woman widely considered the most qualified presidential candidate in history.

Unknown November 29, at The actual cockfight is a human competition, delegated to animals, where the winner gets respect and admiration from the others, while money although Geertz does describe the complex betting system in great detail is secondary. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” — summary and review. Cockfighting is a fight for statues, with bets serving only to symbolize the risk. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is that a people’s culture is an ensemble of rituals which are in themselves ensembles, and these texts are what the anthropologist is trying to decipher.