Accepted paper:

Taking instituted desires seriously: toward an anthropology of individual

Authors:

Heung-wah Wong (The University of Hong Kong)
Hoi Yan Yau (Lingnan University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how individual Hong Kong women develop a unique relation with Boy Love Comics, a special genre of Japanese comics. We shall show how individual Hong Kong women’s desires made them identify with Boy Love Comics in a unique fashion.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how individual Hong Kong women develop a unique relation with Boy Love Comics, a special genre of Japanese comics. We shall show how individual Hong Kong women's desires made them identify with Boy Love Comics in a unique fashion. The stories of these individual Hong Kong women will testify one important point: while these women attach the same cultural meaning to Boy Love Comics, each of them tend to develop a unique relation with the genre. But all this is only to lay the background for a more ambitious project: to explain how individual behavior is ordered but not prescribed by culture. The very fact that they simultaneously conform to, and deviate from, the local meaning of Boy Love Comics implies that human behaviors are both idiosyncratic and cultural. If human behaviors can be both idiosyncratic and cultural, it suggests that either utilitarian or cultural explanation of human behaviors is insufficient. We argue in this paper that the social nature of individual desires is the ontological source of idiosyncratic human behaviors because this paper will show that individual desires toward Boy Love Comics are instituted by the biographical experience and family structure of each individual which is cultural and thus arbitrarily. We therefore call for an anthropology of individual that can take the socially instituted individual desires seriously.

panel P029
The individual in anthropology: a future paradigm in anthropology?