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  • Law and the Odour-ing of Order: Smell, Air and the Public Forum

    Sarah Marusek

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


    The ability of law to ascertain and assert olfactory jurisdiction will be analyzed and contextualized through the jurisdiction of the nose and beyond. In the former, smell is something produced and interpreted through the individual nasal cavities of bodies. However, smell moves beyond bodies to exist in air and through this move, smell transcends the jurisdiction of the nose. Smell, whether as fragrance or stench, takes on post-human qualities as it becomes as a source of regulation that objectifies the social order. As the medium for smell and subsequent source of public action, smell in air characterizes the public forum as a site of legal materiality in the interpretation of social acts, such as drunkenness or illegal drug use. Often, the association of place with smell is culturally determined by legal authority and/or legal remedy regarding illegality. In these places, law responds to the cultural framework of public right exerted by notions of community in regulating public space and associated expectations of air with neutral-to-positive scent. The normativity of smell then suggests that while some smells are offensive, others are acceptable even promoted. These smells are fundamental to a social order that benefits from legal prescription, even legal positivism as smell is either desired or condemned by the public. Smell that lingers in public spaces generate legal frameworks of air and public forum. Through air, smell moves beyond olfactory stimulus to socio-legal stimulus reflective of culturally normative regulation and social order that defines odors, bodies, and power in everyday life.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Marusek, S. 2023. Law and the Odour-ing of Order: Smell, Air and the Public Forum. In: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A et al (eds.), SMELL. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book68.j

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    Published on Dec. 4, 2023