Term Paper: Cockfighting in Latin America

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Cockfighting is a sport that exists in many different regions of the world. However, the sport of cockfighting is prevalent in Latin America. Although there are many who believe that cockfighting is immoral and constitutes cruelty to animals, it is still a popular and legal sport throughout Latin America. The purpose of this discussion is to research the role of this "sport" in a society and the influence on the individual in Latin America.

Cockfighting

According to Hicks (2001) cockfighting takes place throughout the world and even in America where cockfighting is illegal in most states. The author also points out that rules associated with cockfighting vary from country to country and from culture to culture. In addition special terms have been created to describe the physical characteristics of cocks, fighting styles and feather color.

Deciding which owner or bettor wins may be determined by a single fight or a series. The betting system can be straightforward or sophisticated, with odds laid and individual bettors pooling their resources and wagering as a group. But no matter where you travel, the only woman you will find at a match is the occasional tourist or anthropologist; Cockfighting is universally a masculine pastime (Hicks 2001, pg 194)."

Indeed men throughout the world participate in cockfights. The presence of this pastime is particularly prevalent in many of the countries that comprise Latin America. The following section of this discussion will focus on the role of this "sport" in a society and the influence on the individual in Latin America Cockfights in Latin America.

The role of Cockfighting in a society and influence in Latin America

As it relates to the role of cockfighting in a society the research seems to indicate that it generates a type of survival of the fittest mentality amongst those that participate in cockfighting. In addition, in many countries, cockfighting is seen as some sort of test of masculinity. Many researchers have conceded that the sport of cockfighting is actually a dynamic between a man and a cock -- this dynamic is often referred to as a "blend."

According to Turner (2001) a great deal of the societal role of cockfighting can be seen in the fact that cocks are fitted with sharp metal spurs. The author points out that in nature, cocks have spurs as part of their natural equipment, but the metal spurs are present only when cocks are bred by human beings to fight (Turner, 2001). As it relates to social men within the context of many societies that allow cockfighting, these individuals quite often have assistants and as such "the projection of the role "assistant" from the influencing space into the cockfight blend creates a position for a technical helper who cultivates and enhances the natural equipment of the cock in whom the owner has an interest. The metal spurs in the cockfight blend -- "razor-sharp, pointed steel swords, four or five inches long" -- are the counterpart of the cock's natural spurs (Turner, 2001)."

The author also insist that producing these spurs, giving them ritual status and fastening to the birds is the same as performing some service to the owner of the cock, who is a person. As such the spurs are representative of certain factors associated with cocks and certain factors associated with people (Turner, 2001). From one end of the spectrum, the blend involves the fighting cocks; from the other end of the spectrum, it requires human social purposive action and interaction. The metal spurs are the primary result of this interaction.

The author further explains that the cockfight blend contains elements that have no place in a natural cockfight. In fact a great deal of it actually negates natural fighting (Turner, 2001). For instance, the blend has an audience, a handler for the cocks, in addition to a framework of previous engagements involving owners, handlers and the cocks that have previously fought. There are also astrophysical clues associated with how and when to fight each type of cock, a fifty-square-foot ring, a wicker cage under which to congregate and irritate the cocks when they are hesitant, and an umpire bound to regulations written on palm-leaf manuscripts handed down through generations (Turner, 2001). In addition, the ritual of engagement is inclusive of precisely timed rounds and intermissions. Additionally the motivation for the fight does not even come from the animal (Turner, 2001). Instead the handlers or owners make the decision regarding if they will fight, when they will fight and who their opponents will be (Turner, 2001). In addition the idea of winning or loosing the cockfight makes no sense for the cocks (Turner, 2001).

On the other hand, within the context of a natural cockfight winning means that the cock will have the ability to rule the roost or eating the most food or anything that guarantees his physical fitness (Turner, 2001). However winning a natural cockfight does not entail a cock being sliced to death by steel blades. However with the context of the blend the winner is the cock that is left standing when the other falls; this is true even when the winner falls an instant later (Turner, 2001). In addition, the winner still wins the same amount even if he also dies immediately. Also in many cases when the cock dies in a fight it is taken home and eaten; this is true whether the cock is the winner or the loser (Turner, 2001).

Within society there are two owners and two cocks that are owned. The cocks do not exists as natural cocks but instead they are bound to a daily routine of indulgent pampering that is contrived and monitored by human beings (Turner, 2001). In addition the ability of these cocks to breed is controlled by humans. In addition they are not allowed to fight spontaneously (Turner, 2001). With all this being understood, both wild and owned cocks share a connection (Turner, 2001). Within the context of the cockfight blend the instincts and the wild cock and the owned cock are combined. As a result "a single cock in the blend is simultaneously the prized and pampered property of a social man and a wild and violent autonomous animal (Turner, 2001, pg 31)."

The author further explains that the combining of the wild and owned cock is serves as a foundational achievement that invites the necessary blending within the context of a cockfight, a blending in which the owner is a reflection of his cock. That is, the cocks actually serve as substitutes for their owners' personalities; they include characteristics of their owners (Turner, 2001). The author explains that cocks serves as a symbol or exaggeration of their owner's self, the self-absorbed masculine ego. Most significantly, the cock in the blend is a reflection of the owners social status, this creates a cockfight blend, that serves as "a status bloodbath" (Turner, 2001).

This does not seem so significant until it is understood that, in many societies where cockfighting is prevalent, status is strictly inherited and cannot be changed, certainly not by a cockfight. The cockfight, says Geertz, makes nothing happen. "No one's status really changes. You cannot ascend the status ladder by winning cockfights; you cannot, as an individual, really ascend it at all. Nor can you descend it that way. " but in the blend, you can (Turner, 2001-page 31)."

You can rise or fall, defeat or be defeated. In many societies where cockfighting is prevalent, open altercation is not permissible and public display of social rivalry is often veiled as if it never occurs. For instance in Bali where cockfighting is prevalent is has been said that the Balinese are shy as it relates to engaging in open conflict. It has also been said that the Balinese are careful, submissive, and controlled -- "what they call alus, 'polished, ' 'smooth' -- they rarely face what they can turn away from, rarely resist what they can evade (Turner, 2001). "

However when men are cocks or a part of the blend, they can attack each other feverishly, and status can be increased or lost (Turner, 2001).

In the context of the cockfight, men living in these societies are given the ability to portray themselves as untamed and vicious, with the agitated explosions associated with instinctual cruelty (Turner, 2001). Outside the blend, in the social world of people and in the context of natural cockfights, a man's social status is completely different from the status of a wild, self-directed cock in a fight (Turner, 2001). However as an aspect of the blend, the status of a man in society is combined with the performance of his cock, and this can have some real psychosocial costs (Turner, 2001). For instance, when the cock is wins, the prestige of the man is confirmed as a result of the agreement between his status outside the blend and the status of his cock in the blend (Turner, 2001).

On the contrary, if the cock loses the prestige of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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