Accepted paper:

'Ghar ka Tension': Understanding women's mental distress within the household in rural Northern India.

Author:

Nikita Simpson (London School of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents an ethnographic account of women's mental distress, or 'tension', as a register of rising economic inequality within and between households in the Gaddi tribal community of Kangra District in Himachal Pradesh, India.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents an ethnographic account of women's mental distress, or 'tension', as a register of rising economic inequality within and between households in the Gaddi tribal community of Kangra District in Himachal Pradesh, India. This community has experienced a rapid change of labour regime from agro-pastoralism to participation in informal wage labour over the past century, rupturing not only the Gaddi mode of production, but also their distinctive pastoralist identity and associated moral cosmology. Rapid change has resulted in generational disparity in livelihood strategies, literacy, access to technology, expectations and age of marriage (Kapila 2003). This paper applies a feminist economic lens (Bear et al. 2015) to argue that ideals of Gaddi femininity and respectability are implicated in projects of upward social mobility. Taking the household as a micro-context of 'social' suffering, it traces how, as a result, new forms of mental distress are being experienced and expressed through the idiom of 'ghar ka tension'. It sees 'tension' as an emic term that allows women to register and resist increasing precarity within the household. This case highlights the importance of mental health interventions that take a life-course approach to recovery and an holistic approach to care - appreciating the dynamics of kinship, gender and economic inequality.

panel B17
Problematising 'social interventions' in global mental health: what can ethnography offer?