In the first half of the twentieth century, fish odors created heated conflicts along the Monterey coastline. Few scholars in environmental history, however, have analyzed the significance of olfactory perceptions of the physical environment. This article examines two disputes in which odors became connected to larger power struggles over nature and society. The first conflict involved Chinese fishermen, whose squid-drying fields emitted unpleasant smells that precipitated a campaign to eliminate them. The second conflict emerged when the sardine factories along Cannery Row also created foul odors, prompting real estate developers and tourism-oriented politicians to take legal action. The debates over odors pitted tourism against fisheries and ultimately revealed Montereyans' divergent ideas about the types of people and activities that should shape the Pacific shoreline.
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Connie Y. Chiang; Monterey-by-the-Smell: Odors and Social Conflict on the California Coastline. Pacific Historical Review 1 May 2004; 73 (2): 183–214. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/3641599
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