How to Take a Bath
Legitimacy and Durability of a Practice
How are practices such as bathing made legitimate and durable? This question is inspired by ethnomethodology and practice theories and it aims at understanding processes of legitimization and stabilization that allow a practice to persist as recognizable and trans-locally relevant, connected to other practices in space and time. How, for example, are baths imbued with locally situated knowledge about right and wrong ways to carry out the practice, and implemented in identities for practitioners? To investigate these points, I use concepts from Mediated Discourse Analysis (mediated action, mediational means, practice, site of engagement, and nexus of practice) to analyze water diaries I collected in Lusaka, Zambia. The result is a bottom-up account of discourse in bathing evident in the diaries. The paper also speaks to the benefits and strengths of diaries as an empirical approach for researching everyday practices in the urban waterscape.