Local Americanists: Hsuan Hsu, "Decolonizing Smell"

October 18, 2018
3:30 - 5:00 PM
2115 Tawes Hall

Hsuan Hsu is professor of English at UC Davis. Jeffrey Moro will serve as the graduate student respondent. Hsu will present recent research in a paper entitled "Decolonizing Smell."


This paper responds to Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vazquez's call to "decolonize the senses" by considering struggles over smell--the sense most suppressed by Western modernity and its colonial ideologues. Even as colonization transformed Indigenous environments and smellscapes, colonial education endorsed a deodorized, post-Enlightenment hierarchy of the senses. Building on Indigenous studies and settler colonial studies scholars who have critiqued colonization's reordering of perception, I consider Oceanic writings that present decolonial accounts of olfaction as a means of undoing colonization's atmospheric disparities.

From Hsu's department website:

Hsuan L. Hsu joined the UC Davis faculty in 2008. His interests include 19th and 20th-Century U.S. literature, Asian American Literature, visual culture, cultural geography, comparative racialization, and environmental justice literature. He is the author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Cambridge, 2010) and Sitting in Darkness: Mark Twain, Asia, and Comparative Racialization (NYU, 2015). He is working on a manuscript entitled The Smell of Risk: Atmospheric Disparities and the Olfactory Arts (under contract with NYU Press), which considers olfactory aesthetics as a mode of engaging with environmental injustice in literature, art, memoir, and law.

For more information contact: Robert Levine (rlevine@umd.edu)