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Fighting on Christmas: brawling as self-governance in rural Peru

Edwar E. Escalante and Raymond J. March

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2020, vol. 16, issue 3, 355-368

Abstract: This paper analyzes the Peruvian highland tradition of Takanakuy, a public brawling ritual occurring each Christmas to resolve conflicts between local community members. We argue that Takanakuy provides an effective way for locals to resolve disputes that Peru's formal judicial system is unable or unwilling to settle. Using insights from ethnographic fieldwork, journalistic articles, reports, and academic sources, we find that brawling during Takanakuy encourages social cooperation by preventing potential violence and offering community members a credible mechanism of law enforcement in an orderly fashion with social acceptance.

Date: 2020
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