The Smell of Risk: Atmospheric Disparities and the Olfactory Arts

Hsuan Hsu
UC Davis

The Smell of Risk argues that the very qualities that led modern aesthetics to denigrate olfaction—namely, its subjectivity, trans-corporeality, immersion, and uncertainty—make it a powerful tool for writers, artists, and activists interested in airborne environmental risks. Olfactory literature, art, and activism critically restage modernity’s strategies of atmospheric stratification, which the author describes as a process of “differential deodorization” that blends hygiene, air conditioning, and mood engineering with insidious forms of environmental injustice.