Saskia Huc-Hepher
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Adopting the habits of the London field
French community rejection and projection
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Chapter 4 focuses on the final component of the habitus triad: habits. The central premise of the chapter is that examining habits provides insights into individuated and community belonging, migratory emplacement, transnational cultural capital flows and attachment to and/or detachment from France. It sheds light on the broader ideological implications of everyday habits, particularly eating, drinking and healthcare, revealing hidden hegemonies and gendered/sexualised discrimination. Evolving dining habits and an embodiment of cosmopolitanism are demonstrated through participants’ openness to London’s multicultural cuisines. Similarly, their frequenting of English restaurants functions as a strategic emplacement method and an agentive means of performing belonging. A circular intercultural exchange is also discussed, with migratory flows leading to the adoption of British culinary habits in France just as London-French residents’ palates and cooking practices adapt to ‘host’ tastes – within limits. For, in accordance with the limitations of habitus transformation, their home-dining rituals remain fundamentally embedded in French culture, which again implicitly interconnects the migrants through a shared praxial repertoire, while disconnecting them from (perceived) postmigration customs. Drinking habits also set the migrants apart. They apprehend local drinking practices as excessive and vulgar, particularly regarding women. This gendered disparagement and culturally distinctive restraint marginalises them within the diasporic social space, while re-enacting local histories. The final section is dedicated to participants’ therapeutic habits, which are revealed to be increasingly demedicalised in London, where they enjoy the more human, less technical approach to healthcare and are critical of the chronic patriarchal hegemonies and endemic overmedicalisation experienced in France.

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French London

A blended ethnography of a migrant city


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