Politics of Smell and Work

Politics of Smell and Work

Politics of Smell and Work

Venue: KNMA, Saket

Date: 19 October 2019

 

One of the seminal propositions that emerged in the process of exhibition ‘Smell Assembly’ and conversations with domestic workers, transport workers, ittr makers and workers at the spice market was how do we understand senses in relation to work. Social register of smells is central to work hierarchies and notions of hygiene that are central to caste-work relations. Is there a way to conceptualise politics of smell and work? How do social registers of smell shape work -relations? Smells are personal as well as social and cultural, too. The panel discussion expands on the artistic research by Ishita Dey and Mohammad Sayeed, and the proposition made through a parcha, written and circulated by a fictional smell-workers union. A manifesto of sorts, this parcha tried to re-imagine smell as the primary basis of reorganizing work and rate cards, of how people are paid. With presentations by renowned labour historian Prof. Prabhu Mohapatra, Anita Kapoor (Trade Unionist, Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union), Shivani Kapoor (Assistant Professor, OP Jindal Global University), Shashi Shikha (Senior Programme Officer, Participatory  Research in Asia) and artist Amitesh Grover, the panel discussion explored narratives, poetry, metaphors and registers of caste, class and intimacies of work in relation to senses and the sensorium of living in the city. It was followed by a conversation with Imran Ahmad Abbasi from Ishan perfumeries in Lucknow.

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