The weight of the past in the experience of health: Time, embodiment, and cultural change in Morocco
Over the past thirty years, the introduction of new technologies into household life in southeastern, Saharan Morocco has decreased both the labor and time needed for the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning. Despite these benefits, Saharan housewives view the changes in diet and food preparation as the cause of an increase in fatigue and poor digestion. They construct this etiology by means of historical metaphors, which locate health in the aesthetic and moral virtues of life in the past. This article examines this example of collective memory from the perspective of cultural phenomenology, focusing on the relationship between habitus and culture change. P. Bourdieu argues that habitus has a "hysteresis effect," (1977:78, 1990:59) in which the disproportional weight of early experience in the generation of embodied dispositions creates a temporal lag in the logic of practice. In the Moroccan case, the persistence of embodied structures of the body in time from the premodern past fuels a moral discourse that links unrefined food, manual labor, and Islamic practice to meanings of health.
MacPhee, M. (2004). The weight of the past in the experience of health: Time, embodiment, and cultural change in Morocco. Ethos, 32 (3), 374-396. https://doi.org/10.1525/eth.2004.32.3.374