Title

Smells Like?: Sources of Uncertainty in the History of the Great Lakes Environment

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2006

Journal

Environmental History

Volume

11

Issue

2

First Page

269

Last Page

299

Abstract

Although environmental historians have depended most often on visual evidence, our work and the knowledge of those we study relies upon full-body contact with our surroundings. Our senses carry qualitatively different environmental information. Smells are evanescent. In the safety considerations surrounding a large chemical plant on the Lake Huron shore, transient "whiffs of danger" complicated the regulatory, statutory, and scientific sources of uncertainty. This study of hydrogen sulphide emissions shows how sensory perception is contextually tuned and constrained, and by extension how sensing human bodies are historically specific.