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Interconnected practices and household improvisation: a multi-sited ethnography of meat consumption routines in urban Australia and Indonesia

Project start date: 04 January 2016
Project end date: 30 June 2020
Publication date: 13 April 2021
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Grain-fed Cattle, Grass-fed Cattle, Lamb
Relevant regions: National


MLA runs a Postgraduate Scholarship program that supports PhD scholars and Master’s students to research areas of relevance to the red meat industry. This program helps to upskill and maintain future scientists that can have a positive contribution to the industry. Between 2018 and 2020, MLA supported 33 postgraduate scholars.

In this project, PhD scholar Kipley Nink investigated, Interconnected practices and household improvisation: a multi-sited ethnography of meat consumption routines in urban Australia and Indonesia.

Thesis abstract

This ethnographic study of meat as part of humble daily practices contributes new insights to the existing anthropology of meat eating and its implications. Drawing on the emerging field of design anthropology, the thesis is inspired by Marcus’s exhortation to ‘follow the thing’ (meat) in household shopping, food handling, preparation and consumption practices across national borders.

The thesis addresses the following research questions:

  • What are the interconnected rituals and routines in everyday household meat consumption practices in middle-income households in Australia and Indonesia?
  • How do these practices relate to, and negotiate, local histories and regional–global networks?
  • What can design anthropology methods offer in understanding everyday foodways?
  • What insights can a comparison of these practices provide in relation to the circulation of meat?

The focus of the project was on 18 households in urban Australia and Indonesia because, while culturally distinct, they are connected through a transnational and global meat trade. Drawing on the concepts of improvisation, habitus, intersecting technologies and friction, it was found that everyday household foodway practices to be shaped by individual habitus as well as knowledge of frictions in the ways that meat is produced and circulated. Indonesian meat purchasing and handling practices were considered to argue that it is for structural, not cultural, reasons that Indonesia is a ‘wet’ (fresh) meat market.

By following meat in everyday usage and routines, the thesis reveals unexpected connections and disconnections. It was concluded that the increased technical capacity to produce and circulate meat globally needs to sit alongside understandings of local practices and regional networks. Making temporal and spatial links across regions and technical–social worlds, focused on the subject matter of meat, is part of the original contribution of this thesis.

Interconnected practices and household improvisation: a multi-sited ethnography of meat consumption routines in urban Australia and Indonesia, Doctoral thesis - Kipley Laura Nink, 28 September 2020.

MLA action

MLA continues to conduct research to provide valuable information on market and consumer behaviour for the red meat industry. Consumer and trade research projects also ensure red meat demand increases through MLA's marketing programs.

Consumer and trade research projects include:

  • consumer attitudes
  • campaign research
  • third party attitudes
  • trade development
  • market indices.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: Kipley Laura Nink, University of Queensland