Accepted paper:

Envy, desire, and economic engagement among the Bugkalot Iilongot of Northern Luzon, Philippines


Shu-Yuan Yang (Academia Sinica)

Paper short abstract:

This article aims to understand the role played by indigenous idioms of envy and desire in the Bugkalot's engagement with capitalism, and how envy and desire drive the formulation of a certain kind of personhood and agency

Paper long abstract:

The development of capitalism in the Bugkalot area is closely linked with the entry of Igorot, Ifugao and Ilocano settlers. Settlers claim that they have played a centrally important role in developing and "uplifting" the Bugkalot, and that before their arrival the Bugkalot were uncivilized and didn't know how to plant (irrigated) rice and cash crops. However, the Bugkalot do not see the settlers as the agent of civilization, and deny that they are at the receiving end of the settlers' tutelage. Rather, they perceive the obtainment of new knowledge and technology as an emotional process initiated by themselves. Envy (apet, apeġ) and desire (ġamak) are identified by the Bugkalot as the driving force behind their pursuit of capitalist economy, and they are closely linked with local discourses of economic success and failure. While the continuing significance of emotional idioms is conducive to the reproduction of traditional concept of personhood, in the Bugkalot's responses to capitalism a new notion of self also emerges. This article aims to explore how different notions of personhood are intertwined with the local ideas of kinship and economic rationality/irrationality to form a culturally specific form of modernity.

panel IW007
Desire and the ethnography of economic and political change