Liminoid, Communitas and the Touche of the Absolute. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Ultraendurance Sports

Date of Publication:

2017-03-25

Abstract:

The paper presents the interpretative phenomenological analysis of the psychophysical experience of ultraendurance athletes. It is based on the ethnography of altered states of consciousness, that can be reached by the people participating in the long-distance trails. Extremely long-distance trails are interpreted as liminoid time-spaces, where Turnerian communitas is formed on the base of the intersubjectively shared experience of the otherness. The paper uses the theoretical-methodological framework of the phenomenological anthropology, with the emphasis on the Merleau-Ponty´s phenomenology of perception and bodiliness. It concludes that some of the states of consciousness reached by the ultraendurance athletes are close to a religious experience, and that, ultraendurance sports can be interpreted as re-liminalized time-spaces, as a form of secular pilgrimage. In this sense, ultraendurance sports exceed the boundaries of how the sport is usually anthropologically defined and interpreted. The paper is the result of the fieldwork among ultraendurance athletes.

Keywords:

ultraendurance sports, liminoid, communitas, altered states of consciousness, absolutely unitary being

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