Smell, Space and Othering

Author: Cecilia Fe L. Sta Maria, University of the Philippines Baguio, Philippines
Published: September 30, 2016

Citation: Sta Maria, C. F. L. (2016). Smell, Space and Othering. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 1(2).


Currently experiencing social shift from the rural/coastal to the urban, Matnog, Sorsogon, in the Philippines is left with markings of people who live by the coast, who are confronted by poverty, a poverty which can easily be seen in the space they occupy. The present article concerns itself less with seeing, but rather forms a spin-off from the spatial discourse to that of the smell/scent of a woman enmeshed with the space she inhabits and enabling the unfolding of the reproduction of social differences. As a way of knowing, a methodology, in this embodied qualitative research, the scent/smell becomes the agent and the space as the agency of power are both explored as a purview in cultural studies. The sense of smell as a sociocultural construction that establishes social identity and reifies and reproduces social differences is highlighted and positioned. Extrapolating from field work conducted in Matnog demonstrates that the smell of this rural space is rapidly transitioning to that of the urbane and the smell of women who inhabits that space. Through narrative poetry and the presentation of photographs and verbal analyses, olfactory identities and imprints, social differences, identity and spaces are explored, culminating in the transitional reconfiguration of poverty constructs.


space, smell, othering, olfactory identity, poverty, Philippines