Feminist, Queer and Trans Geographies

The Anthropocene stinks! Odor, affect, and the entangled politics of livestock waste in a rural Iowa watershed

Recent interventions in geography regarding the Anthropocene have demonstrated how Western logics of order and containment have produced massive geologic transformations. This paper focuses on odor as a sense that, when engaged critically, disrupts those logics by exposing the porousness of the body to other bodies and spaces. Visceral reactions to smell produce affective responses in the body which are informed by circulating political discourses. Thus, this paper explores how research focused on odor can reveal the complicated dynamics through which bodies are enrolled into subject formation and become a terrain of political struggle. Research on the everyday experience of hog manure in a rural Iowa watershed forms the case study through which these questions are raised. Since the transition to concentrated livestock agriculture at the end of the twentieth century, the disposal of animal waste has caused serious concern. This waste is often collected and later spread on fields across the state, producing foul odors and potential toxins. Political discourses that maintain this system claim waste is ordered and properly maintained, generating positive affective responses to foul odors and thereby maintaining support for industrialized agriculture.

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Volume 38 Issue 4

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