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Envy, Desire, and Economic Engagement Among the Bugkalot (Ilongot) of Northern Luzon, Philippines

Engaging with Capitalism: Cases from Oceania

ISBN: 978-1-78190-541-8, eISBN: 978-1-78190-542-5

ISSN: 0190-1281

Publication date: 2 May 2013


Purpose – This chapter aims to understand how the Bugkalot, or the Ilongot, as they are known in the previous anthropological literature, engage with capitalism in ways that are deeply shaped by their indigenous idioms of personhood and emotion.Methodology/approach – Long-term intensive fieldwork including five weeks of pilot visits to Bugkalot land in 2004 and 2005, and fifteen months of residence from 2006 to 2008.Findings – The development of capitalism in the Bugkalot area is closely linked with the arrival of extractive industry and the entry of Igorot, Ilocano, and Ifugao 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 deny that they are at the receiving end of the settlers’ tutelage. Rather, they perceive the acquisition of new knowledge and technology as initiated by themselves. Envy and desire are identified by the Bugkalot as the driving force behind their pursuit of a capitalist economy. While the continuing significance of emotional idioms is conducive to the reproduction of a traditional concept of personhood, in the Bugkalot’s responses to capitalism a new notion of self also emerges.Originality/value of chapter – Different notions of personhood are intertwined with local ideas of kinship and economic rationality. The Bugkalot’ s attempt to counter the politics of development with their own interpretation of economic change highlights the importance of indigenous agency.



Yang, S.-Y. (2013), "Envy, Desire, and Economic Engagement Among the Bugkalot (Ilongot) of Northern Luzon, Philippines", Mccormack, F. and Barclay, K. (Ed.) Engaging with Capitalism: Cases from Oceania (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 33), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 199-225.



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