Arnold van Gennep (1873-1957) was a French ethonographer who specialized in studying rites of passage who used the phrase limen, or threshold, as metaphor for the social borders crossed as we move between stages of life. Victor Turner developed the concept of liminality for his
Theory of Ritual
which associates liminal behaviors such as: heightened emotion, doing things backwards, permitted excesses, challenges to authority with tales of supernatural and abnormal behavior. In particular there is a tie to lycanthropy or werewolfism.

There is also a body of work developing a Liminal Aesthestics which associates this kind of idea with fringe artisitic performance.

Archaeologists use liminal in the physical world sense, of being at the edge of things. Whether at the edge of a body of water (pun intended: limnology in the watery sense) or at the prairie/forest edge; or even at the edge of a village or occupation. The edges are scary, fruitful places.

Created by steve. Last Modification: Sunday 07 of December, 2003 18:50:16 UTC by kristin.