Hannah Gould and Gwyn McClelland

Jan 24, 2024

Aromas of Asia

Exchanges, Histories, Threats

Pennsylvania State University Press 2023

A uniquely powerful marker of ethnic, gender, and class identities, scent can also overwhelm previously constructed boundaries and transform social-sensory realities within contexts of environmental degradation, pathogen outbreaks, and racial politics. Hannah Gould and Gwyn McClelland's edited volume Aromas of Asia: Exchanges, Histories, Threats (Penn State University Press, 2023) critically examines olfaction in Asian societies with the goal of unlocking its full potential as an analytical frame and lived phenomenon.

Featuring contributions from international scholars with deep knowledge of the region, this volume conceptualizes Asia and its borders as a dynamic, transnationally connected space of olfactory exchange. Using examples such as trade along the Silk Road; the diffusion of dharmic religious traditions out of South Asia; the waves of invasion, colonization, and forced relocation that shaped the history of the continent; and other “sensory highways” of contact, the contributors break down essentializing olfactory tropes and reveal how scent functions as a category of social and moral boundary-marking and boundary-breaching within, between, and beyond Asian societies. Smell shapes individual, collective, and state-based memory, as well as discourses about heritage and power. As such, it suggests a pervasive and powerful intimacy that contributes to our understanding of the human condition, mobility, and interconnection.

In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume include Khoo Gaik Cheng, Jean Duruz, Qian Jia, Shivani Kapoor, Adam Liebman, Lorenzo Marinucci, Peter Romaskiewicz, Saki Tanada, Aubrey Tang, and Ruth E. Toulson.

Rituparna Patgiri has a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests lie in the areas of food, media, gender and public. She is also one of the co-founders of Doing Sociology. Patgiri can be reached at @Rituparna37 on Twitter.

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Rituparna Patgiri

Rituparna Patgiri has a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests lie in the areas of food, media, gender and public. She is also one of the co-founders of Doing Sociology. Patgiri can be reached at @Rituparna37 on Twitter.

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