This site is about my current study on “The Smellscapes of Lublin” – an olfactory urban history.

The project intends to narrate the history of the 20th century in East Central Europe via its smells. Focusing on the city of Lublin in Poland, I follow the continuities and transformations of its urban smellscape with regard to the history of the region.

My intention is to make you familiar with my project, my smell-related activities, and other academic as well as nonacademic research on sensescapes in general. I am especially interested in urban sensescapes as well as sensescapes of East Central and Eastern Europe.

Why smells? I have always had a sense for the phenomenological peculiarities of my surroundings, besides a good sense of smell. However, my “academic” interest in smells was initiated during my PhD about Habsburg Galicia. Back then, I came across a variety of travelogues, complaining about the strong sensescapes of “the East”, thus implying its “backwardness”. Among others, the Ukrainian peasants were accused of smelling of sheepskin, the Galician Jews of garlic and the Polish masters had an air of decay and decadence. I got interested in sensual stereotyping and ascribing smelly notes to regions, ethnicities, spaces etc. and finally came up with the idea to outline an olfactory topography of the region. Sensory Studies, among them the Sensory History-approach is a fascinating and tremendously fruitful way to look at the past and explore sociocultural contexts and subtexts from a sensory perspective.

Hence, I decided on an urban-history-case-study, depicting the smellscapes of a middle-ranged Polish town to narrate the history of the region. I chose Lublin in the Southeast of nowadays Poland, as the city perfectly represents the troubled, yet “ordinary” history of the 20th century in the region.

This site was established in July 2017, with the support of a “Polonez”-Fellowship from the National Science Center, Poland  at UMCS  Lublin in order to introduce my project (2016/21/P/HS3/04063) to a wider public. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No.665778.

Most importantly, the aim of this site is to establish a dialogue on this topic and provide a forum where cooperation and exchange can further develop.

Your comments and input are very much encouraged!

If you would like to contribute with a piece or a link to an article or a relevant event, please contact me.