Deviance in Bali, Indonesia

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Leticia King
Gender, Deviance, and Economics: the Balinese Cockfight
Clifford Geertz theorizes that, cockfighting in Bali, Indonesia is a focal point of culture and kinship relationships. However, women are not allowed to participate or watch the matches. Therefore, does the exclusion of women from the activity also have symbolic meaning? The Indonesian government banned the cockfight, and constituted it as gambling in the 80s. This study will prove that Balinese women have subsequently built and benefited from the economics of the declared but not internalized deviance of the cockfight. Bali & the History of Tajen

Bali, Indonesia has a population of over 3.5 million. The population is 92 percent Hindu, 6 percent Muslim, 1 percent Christian, and 1 percent Buddhist. Close to 100 percent of the population of Bali speak Indonesian as well as Balinese. The capital of Bali is Denpasar and cockfighting is very common here. Outside of the capital cockfighting is also fairly common in the countryside.

Tajen (cockfighting) has been a part of Balinese culture since pre- colonial times. There are ancient texts disclosing that the ritual has existed for centuries. However, it is unknown exactly when the ritual started. Tajen is required at temple and purification ceremonies. The Tabuh Rah ritual expels evil spirits, and always has a cockfight to spill the blood (Tabah Rah literally means pouring blood). The blood of the loser spills on the ground as an offering to the evil spirits, and three cockfights are necessary for this purpose. In 1597 the Dutch arrived at Bali, and in the 1840s Dutch political and economic control over Bali began, banning cockfighting. The independent Indonesian government also banned Tajen in 1981 because Islamic teaching constitutes it as gambling. Nonetheless cockfight continues in Bali, and is considered part of the “Balinese Way of Life” (Geertz 1972: 23).

From time to time the police make a raid and confiscate the cocks and...
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