Details

ISBN-10: 1479810096
ISBN-13: 9781479810093
Publisher: New York University Press
Publish Date: 12/15/2020
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 6.00" W, 0.90" H

The Smell of Risk: Environmental Disparities and Olfactory Aesthetics

Paperback

Price: $30.00

Overview

A timely exploration of how odor seeps into structural inequality

Our sense of smell is a uniquely visceral-and personal-form of experience. As Hsuan L. Hsu points out, smell has long been spurned by Western aesthetics as a lesser sense for its qualities of subjectivity, volatility, and materiality. But it is these very qualities that make olfaction a vital tool for sensing and staging environmental risk and inequality. Unlike the other senses, smell extends across space and reaches into our bodies. Hsu traces how writers, artists, and activists have deployed these embodied, biochemical qualities of smell in their efforts to critique and reshape modernity’s olfactory disparities.

The Smell of Risk outlines the many ways that our differentiated atmospheres unevenly distribute environmental risk. Reading everything from nineteenth-century detective fiction and naturalist novels to contemporary performance art and memoir, Hsu takes up modernity’s differentiated atmospheres as a subject worth sniffing out. From the industrial revolution to current-day environmental crises, Hsu uses ecocriticism, geography, and critical race studies to, for example, explore Latinx communities exposed to freeway exhaust and pesticides, Asian diasporic artists’ response to racialized discourse about Asiatic odors, and the devastation settler colonialism has reaped on Indigenous smellscapes. In each instance, Hsu demonstrates the violence that air maintenance, control, and conditioning enacts on the poor and the marginalized. From nineteenth-century miasma theory theory to the synthetic chemicals that pervade twenty-first century air, Hsu takes smell at face value to offer an evocative retelling of urbanization, public health, and environmental violence.

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Reviews
Hsuan Hsu takes an exceptionally imaginative approach to the relationship between aesthetics and environmental justice. The Smell of Risk contributes significantly to the field of environmental humanities by exploring what has been a largely overlooked aspect of how we construct our environments and structure our social interactions. Hsu demonstrates the co-construction of 'race' and 'environment' as discursive technologies of state power and shows, in particular, how olfaction delineates the notion of an "environment" and its relation to the unequal distribution of risk. This deeply engaging and insightful work will change the way readers approach their olfactory senses.– "Priscilla Wald, author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative"
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Details

ISBN-10: 1479810096
ISBN-13: 9781479810093
Publisher: New York University Press
Publish Date: 12/15/2020
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 6.00" W, 0.90" H
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