The 4th Edition of the Conference on Anthropology and Archaeology in Comparison was conceived with the goal of examining, in depth, the often ambiguous significance of the concept of love, exploring its furthermost frontiers. We shall endeavour to recognise and comprehend issues that come to light as a result of our anthropological and archaeological investigations, abiding by the formula we have, ever since 2010, adopted for our conferences, the aim of which has always been to stimulate dialectic and constructive dialogue between our different branches of knowledge. The hope is that each of our different points of view can contribute to achieving a better understanding of the roots and motivations behind human actions and emotions.

These premises shall serve as the basis for open, relativistic and contextual reflection centred around the concept of love, with the purpose of exploring its various possible shades of meaning. In doing so, we shall favour those interpretative methods that are best suited to overcoming or – at the very least – avoiding the biases and/or contradictions which are often an inherent part of the documentary evidence available to us. Such proof may consist of figurative decorations, oral evidence, or written documents that have come down to us (more or less) directly or been passed to us second-hand. It may include evidence collected in the field, using the tools and methods of either participatory observation or archaeological research. Whatever the case, these documents come to us with the burden of all the symbolic, ritual and material issues and filters that may characterise them, on top of which we often add the androcentric, modernist, occidentalist, and ethnocentric limits and prejudices that all interpreters/observers bring along as baggage, whether or not they are aware of doing so.

In light of the aims we have summarised thus far, six broad macro-areas for dialogue and discussion have been selected. These may translate into as many conference sessions, although this shall be decided based, in part, on the outcome of this call for papers/posters, as well as on the character and nature of the contributions proposed.

The themes chosen are therefore deliberately designed to be open and general. This is to allow, to the greatest possible extent, the hoped-for melding of disciplines that is so often discouraged – for no other reason than the purely apparent conflict that is believed to exist between, on the one hand, the predominantly material-oriented approaches of archaeology and physical anthropology and, on the other, the (wherever possible) participatory and relativistic approach of cultural anthropology and the other social sciences.

The proposed titles, therefore, although they may not have that inflection, are formulated, first and foremost, as potential queries. They are intended to serve as examples of the numerous other questions which any investigation into the concept of love might raise in the mind of those ‘interpreters’ who wish to piece together its meaning from what can be gleaned, firstly, from the complex and multifaceted sphere of ideologies and, secondly, from the relatively concrete sphere made up of objects, gestures, signs and places. Hence we shall proceed from love in the sense of a system of real or abstract relationships, to love interpreted as one coordinate in an anthropopoietic trajectory that aims to define an individual’s identity by giving a cultural “role” to his biological and/or temporal dimension.