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Problems with this article[edit]

1. It seems to contain a examples not consistent with the only definition provided for liminality, particularly sections 4.2 to 4.5. These sections are littered with examples not even indirectly relevant to anthropology. Many examples do not make sense and may even be offensive. For example bisexuality as a liminal stage. Already being a bisexual is outside of even the most generous definition of a "ritual" and thus seems inconsistent with the article's definition of liminality. But moreover it trivializes bisexuality as an actual sexual orientation since implicit in any definition of liminality is that it is a transitional phase.

I think the talk about bisexuality may overreach a little bit, but you're probably reading too much into it and being sensitive when you interpret the article as calling it a "liminal stage". Not my words, not my thoughts, but liminality is characterized by indeterminacy, and when we're talking about cultural anthropology, it's important to be able to talk about value judgments that we may not agree with. (See: Ittoen: The Myths and Rituals of Liminality) --Dhimelright 00:05, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

To resolve this issue with bisexuality, perhaps emphasis could be placed on the permanently liminal stages. Limiting the definition of liminal to the ritual seems too confining. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:30, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

2. Disturbingly low amount of sources. Only 4.6 and the definitions are sourced. Even more disturbing if one considers that most of section 4 reads like original research.

Suggestions: Gut everything past 4.1 and then expand 4.1 with more information relevant to liminality as a concept in anthropology. Unfortunately I am in no position to contribute anything to the article since I have only a cursory knowledge of the concept.

>>Agreed, the section on Communism and liminality is too specialized for this topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:40, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Sourcing is really bad, I tracked down a couple of the bib items and moved them to references. I have a pretty early web source for Turner's "Frame, Flow and Reflection" ( but I'm not up to doing the rewrite (that I agree is necessary) just yet. --Dhimelright 00:05, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

3. The author of this article is overextending the term liminality to cover territory defined by marginality, which is not necessarily transitional, and abjection, which is equivalent to outsiderhood. Turner's definition of liminality is explicit in that he states that it is not a 'state' but a process. The reaggregation of the liminar's identity into a new status or configuration of symbols at the other of end of a transformative rite of passage is a undeniably indispensible to the tripartite scheme that includes liminality. Ritual is temporal and episodic, while not all the examples in the article allow for this interpretation. The author also misses the importance of metaphorical structuring that characterizes rites of passage by analogy. An example is the dichotomy of life and death, which is often used to describe the movement through liminality that ritual passengers experience. Plus, the flip side of communitas is the extreme power held over the "neophytes" by the ritual "guides." I would work on the article itself, but I should be working on my thesis, which is about liminality a draft of which is due in two days. (talk) 03:56, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

4. The section entitled "Christian Worship" would appear to apply to most religions. Perhaps this should be retitled "Religious Worship" or seperate headings should be added for each religion. As it stands, it implies that only Christians have "sacred space". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:27, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Confusing Word Choice/grammar[edit]

The section of this article titled "Liminality of Beings" is very confusing. It lists beings that are (apparently) examples of something, but it does not say what they are examples of or what they have to do with the section. Indeed, it does not say what the section is about and thus has no meaning and is completely irrelevent to the article. I can not edit myself because I lack the proper knowledge, and, now that I think about it, my writing can be rather confusing as well. Repku 22:49, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

At an interesting meeting this week April 2008(AusWeb80) and the speaker referred to those who work as information architects being in a liminal state. Not accurate but made the point very well.

The first job: a liminal process?[edit]

The article is quite thorough and tries to explain this difficult concept that is liminality. However, there is a kind of Liminal Space that isn't analysed here and that could be given some importance since most of us go through it. In deed, a recently graduated student that just started his first job is a perfect example for a liminal case.

The undergraduate, in his last year of studies at college benefits from a series of advantages. He is seen in the university as an element of prestige: placed in the top hierarchy, he is already considered as a result of achievement, given proofs, and success. Employees see in him an eventual future boss and try to treat him more or less as such, because they truly believe he deserves to be treated as such. All in all, he is at the peak of his student recognition level and importance in the organization he is in.

But then, after graduation, comes the first job, and with it a sky-dive fall over what seems to be an edge: the first job. When arriving at this new organization, the no-longer student is placed in an environment where he has yet a long way to overcome and proofs to give, and as so is not yet seen as a professional. Here is the liminality of the situation.

This liminal space where the graduate is no longer viewed with promising eyes and aim of trust and belief, situated at the top of his organization, but is rather seen with doubtful eyes, for how welcoming they may be, and is asked to prove everything that he says that he is worth, and that he had not to prove at college. In other words, he is no longer a final-year student, but neither is yet a professional recognized as such nor a full employee.

This liminal space in which he is placed for at least the first months in the new organization he is working for can be a quite hard social process to go through, and many factors during this time will influence the performance, motivation and satisfaction of this new employee. These factors are such as the relationship the managers and peers, but also the easiness of the socialization process, the level of challenge of the first task and many more.

The question remains to know for how long does this process endure and how can it be smoothen?

Dfvital 13:08, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

The question for this is: is this discussion appropriate for this article? And the answer is, No. It is about jobs, not liminality, and furthermore is original research. Goldfritha 00:48, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

User: minetruly

I looked up this article after the author Chuck Palahniuk described "liminal" and "liminoid" in chapter 38 of his fictional book Rant. The information in this article and the book look extremely similar, to the point I suspect either someone wrote most of the article from Palahniuk's description, or Palahniuk did most of his research by reading this article.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Rant. Doubleday. 2007. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:07, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Etymology of Liminal[edit]

Interestingly this word is from the english word limen, which means threshold. Limen was first used in 1884 in the journal 'Mind'. It pertains to psychology and was introduced from the German word schwelle by Herbart in "Psychology" in 1824. Limen means the limit below which a given stimulus ceases to be perceptible. We get the word subliminal from the same place, psychology. However, there is a latin word limen, which also means threshold in a non-psychological sense. Our word threshold derives from this around the turn of the tenth century, much earlier. I'm arguing that limen had already given us the word threshold without a pyschological meaning much earlier than limen. It is no coincidence that the german word schwelle from which we now derive limen is used to mean threshold in the everyday sense of 'the threshold of a house'. It was with a specific psychological intention that limen came into the english language in its figurative form from german, not the literal meaning. —Fred114 08:32, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Missing citations throughout[edit]

Problems defined in earlier editors' and users' comments above remain. The article still needs extensive revision and much more documentation of almost every part of it. Added templates. Removed section that clearly violates WP:NOR. Much of the rest of this article still does too. Leaving it to others to bring to Wikipedia quality standards (policies and guidelines.) --NYScholar (talk) 02:30, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject on liminality[edit]

I first thought about creating a WikiProject on Death. Then I remembered that I have previously toyed with the idea of initiating a WikiProject on Liminality. Since this would also encompass death-related topics I think that's what I will do. __meco (talk) 20:00, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

-I think thats a faboulous idea. Best of luck! (talk) 12:07, 25 February 2009 (UTC)amyanda2000
And I still haven't gotten off the ground with this idea. It's such a dense subject to get involved with, I find. Perhaps I should begin here by collating a list of subjects that would naturally belong to such a project? __meco (talk) 20:11, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Liminality-oriented categories:

Liminality-oriented articles (not listed in any of the above categories):

I started with these based on articles linked fron the present article. __meco (talk) 16:49, 22 August 2009 (UTC)


Is an eclipse considered a liminal event? (Ex. from the movie Ladyhawke- "A day without a night a night without a day."

I don't think it is, because there's no transition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:46, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

"Tween Places"[edit]

An episode of Charmed talked about "Tween Places" (the in betweens- doorways, midnight, the shore etc) Perhaps this should be mentioned in some way. I think the "inbetweens" or the "tweens" would be the nontechnical terms for the same phenominon. (talk) 12:07, 25 February 2009 (UTC)amyanda2000

Tween places would certain fit the etymology of "liminal". However, for the article, what's relevant is their prominence in source material such as academic publications. Has someone written about this extensively in other places? (Please see WP:V.) —Ben Kovitz (talk) 14:49, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

I don't know specifically, but I know it's an element of mythology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, 24 June 2013 (UTC)


Since this article seems to have multiple issues, I thought I'd bring it to everyone's attention (if it hasn't already been noted) that this article has been copy- pasted almost in its entirety from the article on liminality. The link, if it would be useful, is . This article really doesn't shed any more light on the subject; it isn't a compilation of information, just a regurgitation of an article that's already out there. Tonguetiedsanti (talk) 15:17, 21 July 2009 (UTC) Kay Ann

It says at the bottom of that article that they have used our article under the free licence which all our articles are published. __meco (talk) 20:08, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
It was written here first and copied there. The first version was a summary of an anthropology class I had just taken. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 21:45, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

History of the concept "Liminal"[edit]

Why not create a section about the history behind the concept (within the scope of anthropology)? Arnold Van Gennep (The rites of passage, 1909) was the first to identify and to build a coherent theory about the preliminal, liminal and postliminal phases during transition rites. What James Frazer and others had thought about earlier was just some minimal consistencies, like between puberty rites and funeral rites.[1] Van Genneps theories was futher developed by Edmund Leach (and i some extent Mary Douglas[2])but perhaps foremost in modern time by Victor Turner [3] Perhaps i should just go ahead and make some changes in the article itself, but its such a mess i think it need some serious re-aranging (english isnt my first language and i dont want to step on someones toes).

  1. ^ Brian Morris, Anthropological studies of religion, s. 246
  2. ^ Brian Morris, Anthropological studies of religion, s. 248
  3. ^ Morton Klass, Ordered universer: approaches to the anthropology of religion, s.132-134

Problems with defining of the concept "liminal"

I dont think we should take Turners definition as groundpoint. The orginigal meaning lies in Van Gennep studies on the rites of passage (1909). It does not have to be a complex definition just for the sake of it. By Van Gennep the "liminal phase" in transition rites are the person set aside from society. It can be considered as a symbolic death, it is the transition phase that will lead to a new life (or status or whatever). Its like 1. "now you are child" (preliminal) 2. "now in transition" (liminal) 3. "now adult" (postliminal). As i see it, the liminal can not be a permanent mode of thought, or an permanent abstract dimension in time/space, it is simply "that which is in the middle" of transition. If there is no transition, there can be no liminal. The definition that seem to be at use on the article page is much more alike that which Donald Winnicott called "transitional area" that which is between the object reality and the subjective omnipotence (read more about it on the Winnicots page). Winnicots concept can be a permanent one, and this idea is shared by many mystics (such as ibn Arabi). Much of what is said on liminal in the article is confusing these two different kind of concepts.

The idea that Leach/ Douglas developed out of Van Genneps "Liminal" was taboo. Think of two distinct circles slightly overlapping. The new area where the circles are overlapping is a "third space", a blurry category out of the two original ones. Its "neither this nor that". In the case of animal, the categories can be "birds" and "fish". They are distinct, and should never blend. If they do it is often considered "weird", "supernatural", "wrong" etc, for the primitive culture this is taboo.[1] My point is that this is NOT liminal. The "taboo" which was inspired by the idea of liminal is entire a different kind of concept.

  1. ^ stephen hugh-jones, lecture on ritual, Cambridge, 2005: [1]

A liminal state can continue indefinitely until it is finally terminated. It's not that there is no transition (and therefore no threshold), it's that the transition has not yet completed. If transition starts and does not stop, then one is continuously "in the middle." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Proposed Removal of 2 Tags[edit]

Having added various references to the first 3 sections, I suggest if there are no objections removing the "complete rewrite" and "original research" tags from the top of the article. Section 4 (selected examples) defeats me however - might a sociologist help here?Jacobisq (talk) 10:16, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

Have cobbled together some refs for section 4, and reduced its tag from no refs to Refimprovesect. Would now propose reducing 5 tags at start of article (cf WP:OVERTAGGING) to 1 tag {Refimprove}, pending further feedback.Jacobisq (talk) 09:45, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

The issues raised above - about limits of liminality, possible overinclusiveness of article, etc - still seem to remainJacobisq (talk) 03:21, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the thorough job cleaning up this article, Jacobisq! Fantastic work! I just removed the OR and refimprove tags from the beginning of the article. I think you are right to suggest keeping the tag on the "Examples" section. That was where we had accumulated a hodgepodge of questionable examples. Your new intro para, with the reference about the term coming into popular use, resolves what was, for me, at least, the main headache about this article. It delimits the subject and provides a place for everything about it: both the academic theories and the popular dilution of the term. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 18:53, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Performance and Liminality[edit]

There seem to be interesting links between late Turner and Performance Art in the construction of liminal space/communitas - might someone with expertise in PA perhaps develop these?Jacobisq (talk) 10:19, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

This article currently seems to contain a considerable amount of original research; large parts of it are entirely unreferenced. I don't think something should be mentioned here as an example of 'liminality' unless it's covered by a specific reference. Robofish (talk) 14:17, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

I just removed a bunch of unsourced and doubtful claims that sound like WP:OR. The article now seems to me in pretty good shape, even if it seems to include just about every form of in-betweenness. Well, there's nothing about freeway exit ramps (yet)—places that exist in the automotive twilight where drivers are no longer velocitized but are not yet suburbanized, where they make the unfathomable transition from riding steadily in 4th gear to sometimes operating the clutch. Seriously, the remaining material seems well-sourced overall, with many interesting examples. I don't feel ready to remove the OR tag, but I wouldn't object if someone else checked the article over and removed it (assuming they don't find lots more OR, of course). At this point, I think the article's main flaw is its heavy usage of quotation rather than summary. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 12:36, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

Proposed addition of South Park to popular culture section[edit]

I'm not super sure if this is valid so I don't want to change the page myself. In the South Park episodes You're Getting Old and Ass Burgers, Stan seems to me to be in a liminal stage characterized by his inability to accept the normalcy in his culture and his subsequent role as an outsider. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:31, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Stan might well have been in a liminal stage in those episodes, but to explain that in the article, we would need some material published in reliable sources that we could summarize. See WP:V for more info. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 10:55, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

Liminality vs. the word "liminality"[edit]

The current version of the article seems to be more about the word "liminality" than about liminality. Some illustrations:

"Various minority groups can be considered liminal."
"The concept of a liminal situation can also be applied to entire societies that are going through a crisis or a 'collapse of order'."
"The spatial dimension of liminality can include specific places, larger zones or areas, or entire countries and larger regions."
"Events such as political or social revolutions (along with other periods of crisis) can thus be considered liminal."
"Noon and, more often, midnight can be considered liminal."
"If all wars are liminal situations in which the cycle of mimetic violence escalates beyond measure, then the closing stages of a world war, and especially the process of reconstruction that starts after such massive warfare, can be conceived of as a rite of reaggregation."

The section on imitative behavior is a happy exception. It says some interesting things about liminal periods: that people find it hard to act rationally, that they engage in imitative behavior, that "tricksters" pose particular dangers and actually have an interest in blocking the transition back to normal life. Another bit of substance: ordinary social hierarchy tends to dissolve during liminal periods, resulting in a special kind of camaraderie.

The article would be a lot more interesting and informative if it summarized research findings about liminality (like the high frequency of imitative behavior) rather than summarizing what people can call or have called liminal. Is the problem just that not much research about liminality has been completed, apart from people arguing that this or that can be called liminal? —Ben Kovitz (talk) 16:00, 15 June 2012 (UTC)


The section subtitled 'Communism' either confuses the period following World War 1 and that following World War 2, or occludes the former, and appears to refer only to Europe. If World War 1 and its aftermath were the focus, not only could the Communist revolutions but fascism as well be considered as part of a social attempt to deal with general dissolution of the European political order by establishing governments and organizations based on 'permanent revolution' or combat. The extensions of Communism in Europe after World War 2 through the offices of the Red Army do not seem liminal to me, in that the affected societies reverted to something like their previous states after the Red Army was withdrawn; they were not in transition to a radically new form or order. All this seems so obvious I hesitate to give citations; evidence abounds. Maybe the paragraph should be eliminated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by StarryGordon (talkcontribs) 18:01, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

Please give citations and improve that section. Currently it's a bunch of quoting and mentioning who said what, not really a summary of research findings. Can you recommend a good source on communism in relation to liminality? —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:40, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Skewed sources?[edit]

The footnotes to this page are preponderantly from a few academics that don't seem very well-known but which are affiliated with (according to the bibliography). I am wondering if this it is problematic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:01, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

A few problems[edit]

I see there is some complaining about the article but people do not seem to like tags. The problems aren't the less noticeable because you take off the tags! However it seems amazingly to be good raw material. There are a few misunderstandings; for example, liminality applies only to rites of passage. The sources need to be checked for that. Second, the formatting. This is a good representation of official references but only a representation. It has all the problems the templates are designed to address, such as duplicate refs, different page numbers, etc.I plan to do some obvious fix-it work here. I don't expect to cure all the ills, just some obvious ones. I don't know if I will get time to consider every comment.Botteville (talk) 13:37, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Freshacconci? Is that you, Freshacconci?[edit]

Hi Freshacconci, nice to meet you. For some reason I got a message saying you had reverted some talk of mine of this page. But, when I checked, nothing seemed reverted! Or on the article either. Of course, I have not made any changes to the article yet. The reason is that this article depends a lot on Rite of Passage so I thought I better do that first. However the faults are what I said in the talk above and need to be addressed. Understand, I don't really care what you do or do not revert on the talk page. I thought it might be nice to give some warning of active interest in the article. But, in all my 10 years on WP, I have never seen a talk page reverted! What are you doing there, Fr.? What's the point? Was I rude, threatening, what? How can you revert without reverting? Trying to say something to me? I'm not sure that is WP policy, to revert a talk page. Such a practice would mean you have the power to determine what editors can say or not say on a talk page. I don't think you have it! I would like to say, don't do it again, but I don't see that you've done it! I'm confused. By the way, I've been on here for 10 years. If I wanted it to my user page could look something like yours. I'm more interested in the articles. I focus on the things that are obviously wrong. That almost always means the references. But, you know, I find that problematic references usually mean problematic content. If there are social problems, well, I think WP wants us to work it out like gentlemen. If you start getting nasty on WP you are likely to find you are not on it any more. So, if you have a beef with me, I will be glad to discuss it. I don't go for edit wars and I don't believe in personal articles.If you got a beef bring it up. If you alter any content I have added or altered and I find out about it, I will edit your alteration if it needs it. If the alteration is wrong I will revert it. I like to regard myself as reasonable. Won't you be too? I don't usually get involved in matters I know nothing of.Botteville (talk)

Suggested Book Additions by: C.S. Lewis, William Morris, Lev Grossman[edit]

The topic of liminality made me think of "the Wood between the Worlds":

"The Wood between the Worlds is a pond-filled forest in The Magician's Nephew (1955), the sixth book in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis." (from the article)

The article discusses this liminal space, some literary inspirations (William Morris, Dante, and Algnernon Blackwood), and a derivative (the Neitherlands in Lev Grossman's novels The Magicians and The Magician King).

~ I just thought someone may want to write this up properly — it's not really my thing. — ( ö )

--SoSaysSunny (talk) 19:22, 31 January 2018 (UTC)