Ordering dependence

Care, disorder, and kinship ideology in North Indian antiviolence counseling

by Julia Kowalski

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As Indian women’s rights organizations address violence against women, they rely heavily on mediation practices such as family counseling. At one counseling center in Jaipur, Rajasthan, family counselors operated in an environment saturated with transnational discourse about human rights and gendered violence. Yet counselors addressed household harm through arguments about kin-based care and interdependence, referred to as seva. Through their discussions of seva, counselors challenge scholarly assumptions about an insurmountable opposition between the demands of kinship and women’s rights as autonomous subjects. Instead of presenting independence as a solution to disordered homes, they reordered household dependencies, subtly reworking ideologies of patriarchal kinship. Via ethnographic attention to the complex connections between kinship, care, and interdependence in counseling, I demonstrate the central role of kinship in localizing transnational arguments about rights.