To kiss: from the emotion to the science, in an era when a virus seems to make it impossible.
Two well-known anthropologists focus on the kiss: a bodily signifier whose meanings have changed with time and cultures. From the prehistory of the kiss to its transformation into a cultural manifestation and the bodily expression of feelings and emotions that diversify forms and meanings, grammar and vocabulary, and that are studied to show how the smack of the lips that we define with one single word has, in other contexts, an extremely broad somatic and semantic spectrum. The kiss also has its political and social meanings, as well as a semantics that can be conservative, confirmatory, hierarchy-establishing, or revolutionary. The conclusion leads to the present and to our fear of the kiss as a symbol of that contact-contagion hendiadys that is a component of ambiguity, and, at the same time, to our need for that body-to-body contact which is the basis of human sociability.
Elisabetta Moro is a full professor of cultural anthropology at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples, where she teaches cultural anthropology, ethnology, and cultures and identities.
Marino Niola is a full professor of the anthropology of symbols at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples and editorialist for “la Repubblica,” he writes the column “Miti d’oggi” for “Il Venerdì.