Finding love: The materialities of love-locks and geocaches

Houlbrook, Ceri and Parker, Adam (2021). Finding love: The materialities of love-locks and geocaches. Journal of Material Culture, 26(1) pp. 3–24.



This paper is the product of a collaboration between a folklorist researching the global phenomenon of love-locks (padlocks attached to public structures in declaration of romantic commitment) and an archaeologist who also happens to be a player of ‘Geocache’ (a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices). A chance discussion between the two revealed significant overlaps between love-locking and geocaching, despite the two practices being divergent in function and intention. Some overlaps are tangible, with love-locks forming an integral component of a number of geocaches worldwide. Other overlaps are theoretical, with both practices resulting in contemporary assemblages, or ‘serial collaborative creations’, fundamentally driven by the relationships between objects, places, and human participants. The question driving this paper is what can we learn about these two seemingly different customs by considering where they overlap?

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