Social practice theories provide a unique platform for understanding how everyday practices become globalised through migration, spreading from one place to another, replacing local, often more sustainable, variations. Set in the context of the spreading of resource-intensive practices such as multiple daily showers, we explore the movement and migration of domestic practices, acknowledging that they are constantly shifting from one relatively stable form to another. Drawing on the phenomenon of human migration where, for various reasons, people move from one country to another, we argue that migrants ‘carry’ practices which can ‘travel’ between and across cultures, generations and living arrangements.
People who migrate from one place to another are exposed to a greater range of practices than other more sedentary populations. On encountering new practices in the destination country, we propose the practices carried by migrants are subject to various forms of integration, disintegration and transferral across generations. Borrowing the idea of muscle memory from the biophysical sciences, we introduce ‘practice memory’ to explain how some practices thought to be ‘dead’ can be resurrected with relative ease. We also suggest that practice memory may explain how some practices can be performed in new contexts despite a person never having performed them before. We conclude by reflecting on how understanding these migratory processes, and the role of practice memory within them, offer new insights into how practices move and migrate from one time–space to another.
Authors: Cecily Maller and Yolande Strengers, Centre for Design, RMIT University
First published in Geoforum, Volume 44, January 2013, Pages 243–252