Laws of Chance traces the trajectory of the Brazilian jogo do bicho (the animal game) from its 1892 birth in Rio de Janeiro’s zoo to its development in the city’s underworld and public life during the early twentieth century. Originally a raffle, the animal game “escaped from the zoo” to spread throughout the nation’s capital, thriving in the spaces between the city’s formal and informal economic and political systems (p. 29). Amy Chazkel innovatively conceptualizes the jogo do bicho as a practice of unlicensed petty commerce in the dynamic urban vending landscape of postabolition Rio. The illegality of the animal game, the author argues, developed out of a wider process of criminalization of popular practices rather than a mere antivice campaign to curtail popular gambling. A legal and social history, Laws of Chance ingeniously illustrates how the “enclosure of the commons,” or the privatization of the shared spaces that the...
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Book Review| August 01 2012
Laws of Chance: Brazil’s Clandestine Lottery and the Making of Urban Public Life
Laws of Chance: Brazil’s Clandestine Lottery and the Making of Urban Public Life. By Chazkel, Amy.
Duke University Press,
Photographs. Illustrations. Maps. Tables. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
Hispanic American Historical Review (2012) 92 (3): 590–591.
Patricia Acerbi; Laws of Chance: Brazil’s Clandestine Lottery and the Making of Urban Public Life. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 August 2012; 92 (3): 590–591. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-1600362
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