deadline for submissions: 
May 25, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)
contact email: 

169. Smellworlds

Mathew Arthur, Simon Fraser University;

Smellworlds are everywhere. Intimate or atmospheric, near-imperceptible or assaulting. They seep and linger, harnessing bodies into movement. Luring or repelling. Smell is feral and highly regulated: tangled up in appetites, industries, domesticities, and public hygienes. Chlorine. CK One. Electrical fire. Garbage. Leather. Locker room. Mr. Clean. Old books. Pencil shavings. Smog. Smudge. Wet dog. Yeast. The intiating proposition of smellworlds is compositional: that scent or its absence assembles, pulling things into consistency. To smell is to imbibe or diffuse matters and multiple histories, technicities, vulnerabilities, and violences. Scent infrastructures gain texture around questions of subjectivity and animality, civility and odour, design and desire, utility and glitch. They register invisible and non-consensual chemical relations while defying Western scientific ways of knowing. It is no surprise that colonial histories are tales of deodorization. The colonial project is a toning of sense: how anthropocentrism, whiteness, and settler nationalism come with cultivated habits of smell and predictable smellscapes. This panel invites the interface of smell and STS in the context of toxic bodies or ecologies and colonized or industrial landscapes amidst virality and ruin. Papers might consider: anosmia, aromatherapy, body odour, chemical ecology, colonial sensoria, digital scent technologies, histories of perfume, industry and materials, scent infrastructures, materia medica, nonhuman olfaction, olfactory notes and classification, biologies of olfaction, odor governance, perfume as art, scent sensitivity, sense and scent mapping, sensory marketing, smell methods, smell and AI, smell and Covid-19, smell and celebrity, smell and sex, synaesthesia, toxicity and chemical exposure, or urban smells.


Keywords: Feminist STS, Method and Practice, Decolonial and Postcolonial STS, smell and sensory methods