Cover image for Aromas of Asia: Exchanges, Histories, Threats Edited by Hannah Gould and Gwyn McClelland

Aromas of Asia

Exchanges, Histories, Threats

Edited by Hannah Gould and Gwyn McClelland

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$114.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09541-7

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262 pages
6" × 9"
10 b&w illustrations
2023

Perspectives on Sensory History

Aromas of Asia

Exchanges, Histories, Threats

Edited by Hannah Gould and Gwyn McClelland

Aromas of Asia is very much at the cutting edge of the field. Many books on smell engage in a battle with the straw man of ‘smell-as-neglected’ and ‘the West as ocular-centric.’ This book has moved way beyond such simplicities, and through its varied methodologies and diverse topics we emerge with a number of fresh perspectives on smell in Asia.”

 

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  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Subjects
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. This innovative multidisciplinary volume 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.

Aromas of Asia is very much at the cutting edge of the field. Many books on smell engage in a battle with the straw man of ‘smell-as-neglected’ and ‘the West as ocular-centric.’ This book has moved way beyond such simplicities, and through its varied methodologies and diverse topics we emerge with a number of fresh perspectives on smell in Asia.”

Hannah Gould is Melbourne Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of When Death Falls Apart: Making and Unmaking the Necromaterial Traditions of Contemporary Japan.

Gwyn McClelland is Senior Lecturer at the University of New England, Australia. He is the author of Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki: Prayers, Protests and Catholic Survivor Narratives.

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgements

Introduction: Scents, Sensory Colonialism, and Social Worlds in Asia

Gwyn McClelland and Hannah Gould

Part I: Poetics and Philosophies

1. On a Trail of Incense: Japan and Olfactory Thought

Lorenzo Marinucci

2. The Shifting Smellscape of Early Medieval China: Emperor Wu’s Strange Aromatics

Peter Romaskiewicz

3. The Poetics of Incense in the Lives of Medieval Chinese Officials

Qian Jia

Part II: Making Sensory Boundaries

4. A Whiff of Southeast Asia: Tasting Durian and Kopi

Gaik Cheng Khoo and Jean Duruz

5. The Aroma of a Place in the Sunshine: Breathing in Japanese History Through the Fiction of Endō Shūsaku

Gwyn McClelland

6. Words That Smell: Caste and Odors in Hindi Dalit Autobiographies

Shivani Kapoor

7. Love Is in the Air: A Study of Johnnie To’s Blind Detective

Aubrey Tang

Part III: Bodies–Life, Work, Death

8. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Smell of Vulnerability in Lombok, Indonesia

Saki Tanada

9. Harnessing the Stenches of Waste: Human Bodies as Olfactory Environmental Sensors in Contemporary China

Adam Liebman

10. The Smell of a Corpse: Olfactory Culture in a Singaporean Funeral Parlor

Ruth E. Toulson

List of Contributors

Index