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Liminality: Bibliography #3


"29 Mar -- The Space In Between"
From Liminality ... The Space In Between
Charles La Shure
-Same author as "What is Liminality"
-He has lived in Korea for some time
-He writes about how Koreans say to him "Welcome to Korea," even though he's lived there for years (7 years at the time of this blog post, which was done in
-He also writes about those he's known for a while will say to him, when he exhibits "Korean traits," that he is "practically Korean now"
-Yet, he does not feel Korean, and knows himself not to be Korean, and knows he will never be Korean. However, he no longer feels fully American, either.
-He lives not within Korean society, but around it. He has a special position as a foreigner, and has a perspective of looking inside from the outside.
-He studies comparative literature there, and at first he was upset by this, thinking that his Korean prof thought him not good enough to do "true" Korean literature, but he feels now that his "liminal" status in Korea puts him in a unique position to study comparative literature
-"I will exist in the space in between the two cultures, moving back and forth between them, but never fully belonging to either."
-This is a thought that could be more fully developed. I don't think simply traveling is a liminal position, but what about someone who lives long-term in another country? Is it truly liminal? Because he acknowledges that he will never fully become Korean, so there is no intended end-point to his journey. Perhaps he is more in a "marginal" state, which is similar to liminality, except without end.
-This is again an attempt at a more non-traditional source. I am unsure of its usefulness, but I think it has at least achieved the goal of opening another avenue for analysis.
La Shure, Charles. "29 Mar -- The Space In Between." Liminality: The Space in Between. 18 October, 2005. Web. 29 November, 2011.

"Postmodern Bisexuality"
From Sexualities
Merl Storr
-The article starts off by explaining how Bisexuality is an emerging site of study. The author discusses a conference at which "Bisexuals at that conference did indeed find themselves having to defend not just the viability of bisexual politics or theory but the very existence of bisexuality as an adult sexual orientation"
-I believe it. I couldn't tell you the number of time I've heard, "I don't BELIEVE in bisexuals/bisexuality" - as if we're some kind of tooth fairy or Santa Claus that you entertain as a truth until you grow out of it and decide that you no longer believe in it
-the author suggests that the recent interest in bisexuality stems from the interest in postmodernism. She points to people making broad statemens like "Bisexuality = postmodernism embodied"
-The author discusses a book called Telling Sexual Stories, and says that there were no stories relating to bisexuality. She continues to discuss the "modern" nature of the stories in the book - meaning that these stories had a "core" or "truth" to them. The problem with Bisexuality, apparently, is that the bisexual can engage in any activity with any consenting adult (I'm paraphrasing from the article here, not making a personal statement of belief) and not reveal the "truth" or "core" of the activity or his/her identity. Instead, the author argues, stories about bisexuality would be more postmodern

"...postmodern stories are articulated around fragmentation, rather than around modernist notions of a sexual 'truth' or 'core' in or for each individual. This is common in bisexual descriptions of bisexuality, either in everyday self-descriptions as 'half heterosexual and half homosexual', 'having masculine and feminine sides' and the like (see Ault, 1997: 453-4), or in more theoretical discussions of bisexuality as fragmented, impermanent or incomplete"

"'Coming out' as bisexual, although sometimes presented as closure, is often in fact presented as a temporary resolution or a stage upon a longer journey, with more crisis and transformation yet to come (Eadie, 1997). As Frann Michel writes, 'the bisexual story destabilizes the teleological closure of linear narrative' (1996: 64)."

-The author makes a distinction between postmodern - the theory, the philosophical position - and postmodernity - the social, cultural, "lived reality" of our time (and of bisexuals, I can assume). She argues that this focus on postmodernism - focus on theory - distracts from postmodernity - that is, the actual experiences of those identifying as bisexual. The argument she seems to be making, I think, is that the current postmodern moment has essentially been appropriating the bisexual experience to bolster their theories, rather than allowing bisexuals to speak for themselves.
-I have mixed feelings about this article. Though liminality was one of its keywords, I didn't see it mentioned once in the article. I think this is a loss. So, I'll offer my own analysis
-I think bisexuality can be a liminal state. I have spoken to lesbians/gays who had temporarily identified as bisexual for various reasons. The critics of bisexuality say it's because they're too scared to come out as fully gay, or because bisexuals like to "pass" as straight. This may be the case, and I don't think it means we should condemn bisexuality - coming out is scary. Can we really blame someone for being hesitant? Sometimes they just weren't certain and wanted to experiment. Seems fine by me. However, sometimes bisexuality is an end point for people. In this case, I'm not sure it is a liminal state, b/c it's not a temporary transition. But, perhaps it can be considered "marginal" in Turner's sense. That it is still betwixt/between, defies firm, solid definition, but has no end point
-In particular, I wanted to discuss the idea that those in the liminal state are seen as dangerous, polluting agents to the rest of society. I can see this in the case of bisexuality within the queer community. Bisexuals seem to complicate the clean-cut picture of homo vs heterosexuality that mainstream gay politics focus on while trying to gain acceptance. I think they reject bisexuals and trans folk because they make things complicated and complicated is not good when you're trying to make a political campaign simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker or rubber bracelet. I think it also makes people uncomfortable - "pick a side," "bisexuals are just being greedy," or the contempt that gays/lesbians feel towards bisexuals because of their ability to pass as straight.
-I think there's more to be said about the bisexual experience and liminality, and perhaps more research should be done. But I wonder if there even is research out there to find. There is, to this day, I find, a sad lack of theorizing around bisexuality.
-I found this article by doing a Google Scholar search for Bisexuality and Liminality.
Storr, Merl. "Postmodern Bisexuality." Sexualities. 2.3 (1999): 309-325. SAGE Journals Online. Web. 29 Nov. 2011.

"'World' Traveling and Loving Perception"
From Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes
Maria Lugones
- Quote:

"... the outsider has necessarily acquired flexibility in shifting from the mainstream construction of life where she is constructed as an outsider to the other constructions of life where she is more or less "at home" (77).

-Arrogant perception: "to perceive arrogantly is to perceive that others are for oneself and to proceed to arrogate their substance to oneself" (78)
-This is a failure to identify with/to love another person
-Those who are perceived arrogantly can, in turn, perceive others arrogantly - internalized oppression. She suggests that this is what white/Anglo women do to women of color. However, the focus of this article is not to criticize white/Anglo women, but instead to offer a solution to this phenomenon. This solution being the concept of "world"-traveling
-to use a "loving eye" instead of an arrogant eye: "the loving eye is 'the eye of one who knows that to know the seen, one must consult something other than one's own will and interests and fears and imagination'." (85).
- a "world" is not a utopian theory. It cannot be an imagined place; rather, a "world" must be possible.
-can't be ANY possible, world, tho
-has to be inhabited by "flesh and blood people"
-can be the world of dominant society, or could be a world constructed by a minority population in resistance to the dominant "world"
-can be incomplete; can include a lot of people, or could include a small number of people
- The next point Lugones makes is that one can move between different "worlds" and may even occupy multiple "worlds" at the same time. Lugones writes,
"Those of us who are 'world'-travelers have the distinct experience of being different in different 'worlds' and of having the capacity to remember other 'worlds' and ourselves in them." (89)

- This shifting from being one person to being a different one depending on the "world" that one is occupying at a specific time is what Lugones means by "traveling"
- The important part of this argument is that the "world"-traveler retains a perfect memory of each different person she/he is in each different "world." Sometimes these persons embody characteristics that are contradictory to one another, which leads the "world"-traveler to have a "double image" of her-/himself.
-Playfulness: Western, masculinist playfulness that focuses on competition - anyone who tries to travel worlds with this kind of playfulness is doing so in an imperialistic/colonizing way. Instead, other kind of playfulness: defined as openness to possibility, to self-construction, to surprise. Willingness for fluidity and change
- We need to abandon arrogant perception and allow ourselves to travel to other people's "worlds" in order to see them in a full and complete way
Lugones, Maria. Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions. Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Print.

Liminality: Bibliography #2

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"Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage"
V. Turner
-Turner writes that society is a "structure of positions," and liminality is an "interstructural situation" that takes place during rights of passage ("rites de passage") as a transition between states.
-"States" can mean "legal status, profession, office or calling, rank or degree." It can also mean a "culturally recognized" point of "maturation," as in marriage or infancy. Finally, it can also mean mental, emotional, or physical conditions.
-Turner writes that the transition is a process that takes place over time -- a state of becoming.
-It includes these steps:
-Separation: a symbolic detachment from "earlier fixed point in the social structure."
-Margin: the liminal state, in which the "ritual subject is ambiguous" -- he/she has little or none of the "attributes" of his/her previous position
-Aggregation: the liminal state comes to an end, he/she is "in a stable state once more," and he/she is expected to behave in a manner appropriate to his/her new position in society.
-The person in the liminal stage is "structurally" invisible; that is, there is no no way for us to conceptualize and understand the person who is in-between states.
-The liminal person is at once "no longer classified and not yet classified"
-The symbols attached to the liminal person as "no longer classified" usually have a negative tint -- linked to decomposition, death, menstruation, etc. The images attached to the liminal person as "not yet classified" are images of potential -- gestation, newborn infants, embryos, etc. They are neither living nor dead while at the same time being both living and dead.
-This position of liminality is seen as being unbounded and limitless, while at the same time seen as a polluting agent to the rest of society. Thus they are often excluded/isolated from everyone else.
-Sex distinctions are a major factor in societies that are structured around kinship (matrilineal/patrilineal societies). In these cases, the liminal person can be seen as neither male nor female, and/or be ascribed with both male and female characteristics. They are either sexless or "bisexual." Turner writes, "Since sex distinctions are important components of structural status, in a structureless realm they do not apply."
-The liminal also have nothing -- no property, no possessions, etc.
-I found this source thanks to Sara putting it up on Moodle. It is useful for describing in more detail the concept of liminality as a transition between social roles within societies. Turner's discussion of the symbols attached to the liminal figure may be useful in the future when examining how this concept of liminality may be applied to queer theory.
Turner, Victor. The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual.. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967. Print.

Images of the Liminal
Presentation Transcript
James Kennell, University of Greenwich and Wesley Rykalski, Birkbeck College, University of London
-This is a power-point presentation discussing the "Arcades Project" of Walter Benjamin.
-This "Arcades Project" (which was left incomplete by Benjamin) is apparently a series of writings about and images of the "Parisian arcades" -- which I gather is a seaside promenade.
-Images themselves are somewhat liminal. The presenters quote Benjamin:

"It is not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. In other words, image is dialectics at a standstill. For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal one, continuous one, the relation of what-has-been to the now is dialectical: is not progression but image, suddenly emergent" (Benjamin AP N2a,3)

-They say that the promenades is a good place to consider as a liminal geography because of the way the embody class divides, changing architecture, the development of leisure time, and how the promenade has changed as a public/private space over time.
-The presenters find that the promenade is a space of management/managing of behavior. They write that this leads them "to the idea of managed liminality- the frissons of the historic shore have now been effectively brought into the capitalist mode of production, including the production (and productivity) of leisure"
-They seem to suggest that leisure activity challenges the split of public/private space. This is not expressly stated in the presentation, but I would think that this is the case because these spaces are "public" -- for the use of the community -- but still managed -- there are things one can and cannot do on the promenade -- and that leisure is a "private" activity -- it is done for one's personal benefit; how one engages in leisure time differs from others -- but it is done in a "public" space -- like the promenade.
-The last quote from Benjamin is about the concept of the "flâneur":
"The crowd is the veil through which through which the familiar city is transformed for the flâneur into phantasmagoria. This phantasmagoria, in which the city appears now as landscape, now a room, seems later to have inspired the décor of department store, which thus puts flânerie to work for profits. In any case, department stores are the last precincts of flânerie." (Benjamin 1939: 21)

-I know that the French verb "flâner" means "to loiter" or "to relax." I wonder if the "flâneur" could be said to be occupying a liminal state -- he/she is moving through public spaces without an express intent or purpose, making him/her unintelligible to those who have a specific goal in mind.
-I found this site while searching for images or photography regarding the subject of liminality. I was looking for a non-traditional source, and I found this. I'm not entirely sure about the usefulness of this source, or if it has any place here. But I thought I'd take a chance and try it out. I think more exploration of the concept of the "flâneur" could be interesting or useful.
Kennel, James and Wesley Rykalski. "Images of the liminal - Presentation Transcript." Slide Share Inc, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.

'I am the Prince of Pain, for I am a Princess in the Brain': Liminal Transgender Identities, Narratives and the Elimination of Ambiguities
From Sexualities
Mandy Wilson
-In this article, Wilson explores the liminal process of transgender identities. She explores why it is seen as a process between one fixed point (gender) to another fixed point (another gender) by the transgendered people she interviewed.
-She writes:

"the trans of transgendered meant for many a temporary liminal phase and
was before long perceived as one of limited gender potential, where the
body is out of necessity suspended in a 'betwixt and between' limbo but
where it 'is simply a means to an end rather than an end in itself'."

-Wilson writes that the people she interviewed were critical of the male/female gender binary, but, "their criticism was directed more towards the inability to shift from being one gender to the other or to being allowed to be both male and female, rather than of the
categories themselves" and mostly retained the "mutual exclusiveness of gender boundaries."
-Wilson writes about the meetings of transgender people in Perth, Australia, and likens these gatherings to Turner's idea of "communitas" -- communities of those in a liminal space. In this communitas, "the transgendered body now occupies a space where the
distinction between conventional notions of male and female becomes
considerably ambiguous."
-An important passage:
"What is interesting about the private collectively liminal stage is that gender conventions are temporarily suspended, variant bodies are everywhere and yet, the purpose of this phase is often to privately nurture the variant individual for publicly unambiguous genderhood."

-Finally, Wilson writes that interestingly enough, once a transgender person transitioned finally to his/her final gender of choice, he/she rarely, and usually never, returned to the transgender support group. In Turner's theory of liminality, this would be because that person has attained his/her final stage and has now exited the liminal period.
-This article specifically engages Turner's theory of liminality with the transgender experience. It applies the term and the concept usefully to a "queer experience." Perhaps more research along these lines could be helpful.
Wilson, Mandy. "'I am the Prince of Pain, for I am a Princess in the Brain': Liminal Transgender Identities, Narratives and the Elimination of Ambiguities." Sexualities. 5.4 (2002): 425-448. SAGE Journals Online. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.

Liminality: Bibliography #1

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Dictionary Definition
Based on Random House Dictionary
-This definition implies that liminality is related to social rites of passage, in which a person is transitioning from one social position to another.
-I thought that looking up the dictionary definition of the term "liminality" would be a useful place to start this tracking term assignment. First, it might give a general idea of what the term means in a broad sense. Second, I can compare and contrast the dictionary definition to the definition I may find throughout my research. This way, I can see how the term might differ from its dictionary definition in its use in queer theory, or how it may be similar.
-It may be useful to search for other dictionary definitions, or dictionary-type definitions, to see if there are other definitions of this term.
-I found this source simply by doing a Google search on the word "liminality."
"liminality." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 05 Oct. 2011. .

"It Matters to Get the Facts Straight"
From Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism
Minh T. Nguyen
-In this text, Nguyen wishes to reclaim or rehabilitate the concept of identity. She argues that postmodern skepticism regarding identity and objectivity are "intellectually underjustified," "inadequate," and, in some cases, "unwarranted" (173). Postmodern thought argues that the social constructedness and fluidity of identity mean that it is epistemically unreliable, and draw from this argument the conclusion that truth and objectivity cannot be achieved through use of identity and experience. Nguyen, on the other hand, makes the claim that identity can be epistemically valuable precisely because it is theory-mediated (i.e., constructed, fluid, changing, and constantly being mediated). She argues that our experiences and identities have a "cognitive component" (177), meaning that we actively engage in interpreting our experiences and identities, and therefore, our experiences/identities, if "properly interpreted, can provide reliable and accurate knowledge, of ourselves and of social reality" (177).
-After making these claims and setting the ground work for her theory, Nguyen uses this theory to analyze two texts, Obasan and Itsuka. These texts are about a Japanese-Canadian woman who embarks on a personal quest to find the truth of what happened to her, her family, and Japanese-Canadians in general during the second World War. Throughout the stories, the main character, Naomi, is constantly gathering new information, and piecing it together to create a complete picture of the truth of her experience. Nguyen points out that Naomi's interpretations and conclusions are changing because she is constantly receiving new information. While postmodernists read this text and conclude that this means there is no such thing as "truth," and that we (and Naomi) cannot attain it through examination of our experiences, Nguyen disagrees. She argues that truth-finding is a process, and that while it is true that Naomi may sometimes be mistaken or wrong in her understanding of her and her family's experience, that doesn't mean that Naomi cannot eventually reach the truth of her experience. Rather, reaching the truth is a process which involves gathering all of the information, all of the facts, and all of the perspectives from various places, in order to create a complete and accurate picture of what has really happened.
-Key passages:

"According to the realist theory of identity, our cultural identities are both constructed and "real": on the one hand, identities are constructed because they are based on the subjective theoretical constructs and values that we bring to our interpretation of our personal experience; on the other, identities are also real because they refer outward to causally salient features of the social world, features that can accurately describe and explain the complex interactions among the multiple determinants of a person's experience."

"... that experience has a cognitive component meant that we can consider and take into account the question of error as well as accuracy in interpreting experience. That is, because experience is theory mediated a person's understanding of a given situation may undergo revision over the course of time, thus rendering her subsequent interpretations of her experience in and of that situation more (or less) accurate."

-While this reading does not mention liminality specifically, I think it can be related to the term. Nguyen's writing implies that sense-making and truth-making is a process, and during that process one may be more or less correct, and one may be on the path of becoming one thing or another; one may be occupying an in-between space while all the relevant facts are acquired.
-I had read this article for a class last semester, and it really resonated with me back then. I thought I could possibly revisit it for this course and for this project.
Nguyen, Minh T. "It Matters to Get the Facts Straight." Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism. Eds. Paula M. L. Moya and Michael R. Hames-Garcia. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2000. 171-204. Print.

About: What is Liminality?
From Liminality ... The Space in Between
Charles La Shure
-This person seems to have created a website about the concept of liminality. On this page of the site, the author discusses the possible meanings of liminality. The author draws heavily on the writings of Victor Turner, who wrote extensively on the topic while studying "ritual societies" (while this term is not fully explained, I understand it to mean a society which uses different types of rituals, particularly some sort of coming-of-age ritual). The author notes that the term was first used in psychology, and then in anthropology as a part of a three-step process contained in coming-of-age rituals (such as marriage). The steps are (1) Separation, (2) Liminal period, and (3) reassimilation. The author explains that Turner broadened the usage of the term and took it outside anthropology and into other disciplines. Turner argues that while a subject undergoes a liminal stage, s/he is "stripped" of social status, and becomes ambiguous or unintelligible within society, and that the subject is indeed, in a way, outside of social structures. Turner also argues that the state of liminality is one of possibility, in which those in the state create "communitas" -- that is, a social grouping not based on hierarchy and structure. The author explains that Turner differentiates between the liminal and the marginal. While both the liminal and the marginal subjects are "betwixt and between," marginal subjects (who are on the edge) do not have a promise of a stable position in the future. Turner argues overall that liminality is a temporary state, and after a subject has passed through it, s/he will have a stable position within society. The author also explains that Turner's writing can be confused on the subject of whether liminality is entered by choice or by force. Is it simply "opting out" of social structure, or is it part of a social process that subjects must go through (as in a "ritual society")? Another important point, I think is that Turner states that those in a state of liminality are considered dangerous to those in a more stable state. Perhaps this is so because liminality is the "antithesis" of social structure, and yet out of this non-structure can come a new form of social organization/structure. A final quote from the article:

"While in the liminal state, human beings are stripped of anything that might differentiate them from their fellow human beings--they are in between the social structure, temporarily fallen through the cracks, so to speak, and it is in these cracks, in the interstices of social structure, that they are most aware of themselves."

-It may be profitable to read more of this author's writings, to see what else La Shure has to say on the topic. Since he made an entire website devoted to the term, it may be safe to assume that he has useful things to say. It may also help to look at this Victor Turner person.
La Shure, Charles. "About: What is Liminality?" Liminality: The Space in Between. 18 October, 2005. Web. 5 October, 2011.