UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Sustainable Heritage MSc alumna talks olfactory and cultural heritage at Leighton House

8 March 2023

Sustainable Heritage MSc alumna Sanjoli Mathur took part in 'Oriental?! An immersive and aromatic panel discussion' at Leighton House.

Person applying an essential oil to their hand

How does the term 'Oriental' interact with olfactory and cultural history? Sustainable Heritage MSc alumna Sanjoli Mathur took part in an event exploring the term 'Oriental' in the perfume world.

The panel discussed the vocabulary that is used to describe and label smells in the perfume industry, such as the word 'oriental', and the need to critically engage with them, debating the importance of language and the uneasy border between appreciation and appropriation of cultural history.

Sanjoli brought a heritage perspective to the discussion, talking about smells in the heritage space and how people from varied cultural backgrounds experience the same set of smells, bringing out an equally varied set of narratives.

Sanjoli presented findings from her MSc dissertation titled 'Decolonising Olfactory Heritage' and spoke about the need to have more discussions and conversations to uncover the culturally varied narratives linked to smells.

The panel discussion was chaired by artist, scent designer and sensory consultant Tasha Marks, and the discussants also included artist and perfumer Ezra-Lloyd Jackson, art historian and cultural practitioner Nadine Nour el Din, and Anglia Ruskin University Associate Professor in Sensory History William Tullett.

A recording of the event is available on the Leighton House website, with ticket purchase required to view.

panel discussion at Leighton House with ISH alumna Sanjoli Mathur