Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Pauline Wakeham


This dissertation explores the crucial, yet often unacknowledged, role smell plays in Canadian diasporic women’s writing. While some critics discuss scent in their work on taste, memory, and diasporic nostalgia, I argue for considering scent in its specificity and suggest that smell shapes diasporic subjectivities differently than taste. Complicating frameworks that focus primarily on notions of memory, homeland, and nostalgia, I consider how diasporic subjectivities are shaped by a range of feelings connected to experiences in past homelands and present places of habitation, including racialized and gendered forms of olfactory discrimination in the ostensibly tolerant nation of Canada. Appropriating the concept of diffusion from scientific theories of smell, I re-conceptualize diffusion as a model of movement and mixing that complicates narratives of linear diasporic migrations from a single point of origin. I use diffusion to theorize “diffuse connections,” a framework that emphasizes the blending of diasporic experiences across time and space and the intimate intersubjective encounters that emerge through scent. Each chapter explores novels by Canadian diasporic women writers (Shani Mootoo, Hiromi Goto, and Larissa Lai) that represent diasporic subjectivities in terms of diffuse connections.