Liminality is an anthropological term, first coined by van Gennep in his 1909 book Rites of Passage. The word is derived from the Latin limen, which means ‘threshold’. Liminality refers to the ambivalence, confusion, or disorientation experienced in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold at the end of the rite. The first or pre-liminal stage is the stage of separation; the middle or liminal stage is the stage of transition; the third or post-liminal is the stage of re-integration into the community.
During the liminal stage, the participant’s identity, their relationship to their environment, family, and, more broadly, society, as well as their relationship to time, space, and existence as such, is in flux. In more general terms, liminality refers to a state of flux and in-between-ness in which the dominant or governing logic of a given situation is temporarily suspended.