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Lecture: Dr. Mojca Ramšak: Anthropology of Smell and Chemistry


Title of the lecture: The anthropology of smell and chemistry

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Mojca Ramšak

When & where: Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at 1 p.m., Great Lecture Hall (1st floor)



The anthropology of smell examines how perceptions of smell are shaped by social and cultural factors as well as how smells vary by culture. The anthropology of smell is interested in the smells that influence our social awareness, our cultural identity, our interpersonal relationships, and our power dynamics. Because smell has long been considered inferior among the senses, the anthropology of smell is interested in, on the one hand, the sociocultural factors that influence olfactory perception and cultivation, and, on the other hand, the smells that shape our attentiveness to others, our cultural identity, our social relations and power relations. In addition, the anthropology of smell examines the symbolic dimensions of smell as a carrier of moral norms and aesthetic values, and the meanings of smell in everyday life, ranging from love and eroticism to hatred, racist and xenophobic olfactory stereotypes of the “other”, as well as the ways in which smells are verbalized. In an applied sense, the anthropology of smell in its interdisciplinary breadth includes the didactic forms of presenting smells from the past in museums, galleries, archives and libraries, the use of simulations and imitations of smells produced for consumer needs, the social consequences of new technologies (e-nose) already used in several fields.

In addition to introducing the field of anthropology of smell, the lecturer will also outline the points of intersection between humanistically conceived odour research and the natural sciences, specifically, taxonomic models of odour classification required for this field’s conceptual openness to the contemporary study of historical smells in museology.


About Mojca Ramšak:

Mojca Ramšak, Ph.D. in ethnology from the University of Ljubljana, Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Ljubljana and Professor of Anthropology at AMEU-ISH, Faculty for Postgraduate Studies in the Humanities. She is a researcher, postgraduate professor, and author who has published eight scholarly monographs that focus on applied research and the use of critical, experimental, and traditional forms of qualitative inquiry in the interest of social justice, human dignity, and human rights.



The lecture will be held in Slovenian.

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