Law and the Senses Series – Smell

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The Law and the Senses series continues with taste’s neighbouring sense — smell. Smells are invisible, intangible and transitory, but despite their elusive quality they are intrinsically normative. Although hardly graspable by law, they both share the potential to perform the same acts of unification and division when constructing normative spaces. It is along these lines that this series engages with the olfactory: not as law’s object of regulation, but as a means through which the law performs, actualises, perpetuates and materialises itself. Smell exposes to view, it airs the way in which law conceptualises and contextualises its own actuality. Smell brings law forth by allowing it to show its underbelly, its elusive sense-making that is invariably sacrificed to the necessity of legal constancy. However, smell’s fragmentary, discontinuous and unstable nature, despite all the ordering that goes to it, poses a peculiar challenge to the law. This issue sets out to investigate this juncture.

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