In brief: Laws of Chance

Laws of Chance: Brazil’s Clandestine Lottery and the Making of Urban Public Life
Amy Chazkel
2011, Duke University Press
346 pages, plates

IN ITS early years, Brazil’s lottery clearly prefigured the dynamic and urban internal market – with a large measure of dice-rolling and not a little illegality – that would shape the country’s subsequent development. In Laws of Chance, Amy Chazkel traces the development of the jogo do bicho, or “animal game”, from its origins in 1892 after the abolition or slavery with the status of an informal diversion into a cultural phenomenon that spread like wildfire across the country. The lottery, she argues, operated as a form of unlicensed petty commerce existing in a precarious relationship with the judicial system that would later characterise so many aspects of public life in Brazil as well as throughout Latin America. – EC