Love: its spaces and places

The final subtheme we are proposing concerns the “spatial” dimension, which can characterise the manner in which a feeling/instinct of love/sexuality manifests and/or is expressed in terms of both relationship and ritual. We shall explore this subtheme by means of as accurate an analysis as possible of the configuration and geographic distribution of the spaces characterised by this specific function. Proposed contributions to this session must therefore place an emphasis on the layout and on the topographical, architectural, artistic, symbolic and organisational features of places which may have been intended for the expression – with varying degrees of codification – of personal and emotional intimacy. That intimacy might be “familial” in nature (on the model of the thalamos or the nuptial chamber, including the possible projection and translation of these spaces into a burial context), hedonistic (lupanar, bagnio, brothel, etc.), or ritual (as in the case of religious spaces dedicated to sacred prostitution). A related analysis, one which falls within the sphere of this last category, is that of the placement and configuration of the places and spaces – all to some degree sacred and/or sacralised – reserved for the rites of passage discussed as part of the previous subtheme. On this topic, we would like to focus, in particular, on the possible gender oppositions that can be perceived in their topographical organisation and layout, and on their possible relationship to ritual performance.
Another possible perspective for interpretation, which we hope to see addressed, is one which more broadly impacts the sphere of gender identity, taking into consideration the ways it which it may be reflected in the planning and design of urban or extra-urban spaces, dwellings or burial spaces. Such planning would have given rise to sacred or secular areas/districts that were intended exclusively for either females or male, and thus subject to prohibitions – express, implicit or somewhere in between – linked to their appointed functions and/or to the social composition/connotation of the groups admitted to them based on specific criteria, such as age, sex, origin, and marital and/or civil status.