Speculation in Fixed Futures – University of Copenhagen

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Speculation in Fixed Futures

An Ethnography of Betting in between Legal and Illegal Economies at the Delhi Racecourse

PhD Thesis by Stine Simonsen Puri, 2014

The project was financed by the Council of Strategic Research through FSE, the Danish Research Agency. Stine Puri has also obtained an Elite Research Travel Stipend from the Danish Minister for Research, see http://www.eliteforsk.dk/modtagere/prismodtagere-2011/modtagere-af-videnskabsministerens-eliteforsk-rejsestipendier/stine-simonsen-puri  

Main supervisor: Professor dr.phil. Esther Fihl, Centre for Comparative Cultural Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Co-supervisor: Professor, Ph.d. Morten A. Pedersen, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen

Assessment Committee:

  • Associate Professor Ravinder Kaur, Chairman (University of Copenhagen)
  • Professor Rebecca Cassidy (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Associate Professor Gustav Peebles (The New School, New York)

 

English Abstract

Danish Resumé 


English Abstract

This Ph.D. thesis engages with betting in India based on a long-term fieldwork at the Delhi Racecourse. It examines speculations behind the social and economic practices of betting on horse races in an Indian economy, from which parallels to global finance are drawn. The thesis follows a number of bettors in their daily life inside and outside the racecourse. The research deals with the history of horse racing in India, gambling legislation, modes of prediction, friendships among bettors and bookmakers, the interpretation of and work with odds, technologies, and the coexistence of legal and illegal economies.

The main argument is that the Delhi racecourse is perceived as a site of deception, where a considerable amount of the races are being manipulated by jockeys, trainers, horse owners, race judges and the mafia in order to extract money from the betting market. Betting is therefore oriented towards figuring out the hidden human intention clothed in economic movements rather than the potentials of the horses. This interpretation of the racecourse generates complex market practices where the majority of the economy exists in illegal bookmaking, kickbacks, bribes and a market for inside information among people with little trust in each other and the procedures of the legal economy.

 

Dansk Resumé

Denne ph.d. afhandling omhandler gambling i Indien og er baseret på et længerevarende feltarbejde på Delhis galopbane. Den undersøger de spekulationer som ligger bag de sociale og økonomiske praksisser der er forbundet med spil på heste, hvilke placeres i en indisk økonomisk kontekst samtidigt med at der drages parelleler til finansverdenen. I afhandlingen følges et antal spillere indenfor og udenfor galopbanen. Der fokuseres derudover på hestesportens historie i Indien, gambling lovgivningen, metoder for forudsigelse, teknologier, venskaber mellem spillere og bookmakere, fortolkningen af og arbejdet med odds, samt sameksistensen af legal og illegal økonomi.

Hovedargumentet er at galopbanen forstås som et sted for bedrageri, hvor et ikke ubetydeligt antal af hesteløb bliver manipuleret af jockeys, trænere, hesteejere, bookmakere, dommere, og mafiaen for at tjene penge fra spillemarkedet. Forbundet med bettingen er derfor et forsøg på at gennemskue forskellige menneskers hemmeligholdte intentioner og økonomiske transaktioner snarere end hestenes potentialer. Denne overbevisning afføder komplekse praksisser, hvor tyngden af økonomien er at finde i illegal bookmaking, bestikkelse og et marked for insider viden blandt mennesker med sparsom tillid til hinanden og til de legale økonomiske teknologier.