Interlocked: kinship, intimate precarity, and plantation labour in India

Jayaseelan Raj*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article examines the employment of kinship relations in sustaining the plantation economy and in perpetuating the precariousness of child labourers who later became temporary workers in the tea plantations of Kerala, South India. Kinship ties locked diverse workers into a moral obligation of care that could easily be manipulated by plantation management as a form of labour control. Plantation capitalism, therefore, sustained itself not only through overt forms of violence but also through manipulating the precarity of employment in relation to intimate forms of love, care, and obligation that were bound up with kinship ties. Kinship networks of different kinds need to be understood as integral to the plantation society and as occupying a fundamental place within the capitalist order of plantations. I observe that the entangled relationship between workers’ precarity and plantation capitalism can be understood only if we pay attention to what I call the intimate precarity produced by the employment of kinship networks within plantation capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-898
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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