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  • Skunk: Olfactory Violence and Morbid Speculation

    Jean-Thomas Tremblay, Hsuan L. Hsu, Aleesa Cohene

    Chapter from the book: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A et al. 2023. SMELL.


    This chapter examines the different modes of speculation activated by the weaponized malodorant known as Skunk, from the financial speculation around its trading and stockpiling to the sadistic social chatter imagining its deployment within and beyond the Palestinian communities where Israeli police forces have already used it. We interrogate how Skunk’s developers and advocates have leveraged the legal distinction between morbidity and lethality. Specifically, we locate Skunk in a broader history of chemical weapons, particularly tear gas, zooming in on the ways the rubric of “less-lethal” has not only minimized the health risks associated with such weapons but celebrated their development and deployment as humanitarian interventions. We also analyze Skunk’s marketing materials alongside varied accounts of its embodied effects to show how the substance both trivializes and weaponizes the visceral, trans-corporeal qualities of olfaction.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Tremblay, J et al. 2023. Skunk: Olfactory Violence and Morbid Speculation. In: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A et al (eds.), SMELL. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book68.c

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Additional Information

    Published on Dec. 4, 2023