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Name: Ivan MarkovicMarković

PhD: Critical Theory and Cultural Studies

Provisional Thesis Title: Hazy atmospheres: a sensory history of smoking and vaping, c. 1880 - present  Hazy histories: Smoking atmospheres in twentieth-century Britain


Thesis Description:

The project will explore the everyday atmospheres of smoking in Britain from c.1880 to the present. Taking in the current rise of vaping (using e-cigarettes), this projects seeks to unearth the overlooked sensory experiences of touch, smell and taste, as well as affect and rhythm to expand an understanding of a practice that is too often construed merely as personal health risk or socioeconomic problem.

By the late 19th century, smoking in Britain had become universal and the mass consumption of cigarettes post-WWII saw a stark shift in the class and gender profile of smoking (Hilton, 2000), while the development of cheap, mass-produced paper cigarettes that replaced clay pipes and fine cigars, created an atmosphere with new scents, flavours, textures and rhythms. The project will examine how these changing sensory, material and affective spatio-temporal experiences shaped and were shaped by the established cultures of class, gender and health. What is more, the recent emergence of e-cigarettes further complicates these issues and poses new questions about the smoker’s identity by offering not only a safer, familiar alternative, but evoking, at the same time, a distinct atmosphere. The key contribution of this project will be to map the historically diverse atmospheres of smoking not only to get a richer understanding of the past but also nuance the ways vaping is sensed today. 

The project will hence move beyond traditional, ‘deodorised’ histories (Classen 1993; Smith 2007) and be in line with the ‘sensorial revolution’ in the humanities (Howes 2006) that displaced vision as the main medium for understanding the world. Thus, by capturing these more diffuse, ‘hazy’ atmospheric aspects, which have implications for the ways smoking is extolled or vilified, I will challenge a model that imposes rigid conceptual divisions by reducing smoking and vaping merely to notions of health and risk.

This thesis an epistemological experiment in knowing the past atmospherically. It seeks to address the question of how we might go about recovering, from the historical record, something as hazy, fleeting and potentially intangible as an atmosphere. The thesis tells a story of smoking at four key moments in twentieth century British history: the turn of the 20th century, the Second World War, the 1980s, and lastly, the mid-2000s. The story is narrated through the lens of atmosphere to tease out and foreground the feelings, emotions, senses, rhythms and affects that otherwise remain a backdrop in conventional historical accounts.
The thesis adapts Sumartojo and Pink’s (2018) tripartite approach of knowing about, through and in atmosphere to archival research, and draws on a wide range of material, from newspaper articles, magazines, etiquette guides and diaries to letters, film, photography and material culture. It re-visits sources already considered by historians of smoking, while also introducing as yet unexamined material. The thesis then proposes four specific modes of attunement, materiality, time, conviviality and space, through which the four moments of the smoking past are examined, and past atmospheres conjured. Finally, the thesis makes the case for storytelling as a form of narration that has the unique capacity to compel an atmospheric attunement between the reader and the text, an experiential closeness and intimacy not always required or evoked by academic work, but one that has the potential to regain and hold a past atmosphere in the present.


1. Lighting up | 1
2. In the air | 12
3. Smoking out atmosphere | 38
4. Desiring atmosphere | 79
5. Wartime atmospheres | 117
6. Toxic atmospheres | 152
7. Purifying atmospheres | 185
8. Stubbing out | 213


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Dr Tracey Potts (University of Nottingham)

Dr James Mansell (University of Nottingham)

Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

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  • Marković, I. (2019) 'Out of place, out of time: towards a more-than-human rhythmanalysis of smoking'. cultural geographies (26)4: 487-503.
  • Marković, I. (2019) 'Vaping like a chimney: skeuomorphic assemblages and post-smoking geographies'. Social & Cultural Geography. [Online first]

Book Reviews

Conferences & Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


  • n/a


Other Research Interests:

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  • ‘On the abundance of absence: second-hand smoke and the emergence of toxic atmospheres in the 1980s workplace’, RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London, 2019.


  • Sensing past atmospheres; a green silk kimono and the sensory politics of smoking c.1880 – 1930.  - conference paper presented at AAG 2018 in New Orleans, US, 10-14 April


  • 'Locating selfish stinkers'; smoking and everyday sensory histories - conference paper presented at 80th Anniversary Mass Observation conference at University of Sussex, Brighton, 10-17 July

  • Smoking, agency and the everyday; towards a more-than-human rhythmanalysis - paper presented at University of Nottingham, Health Humanities' Early Bird research group, 19 July

Other Research Interests:

  • sensory history, material culture, (affective) atmospheres, rhythmanalysis, ethnography, smoking, vaping




University email address: ajxim2@nottingham

LinkedIn: Ivan Marković

Twitter: @hazyhistories

Other Social Media: