From the Liminal to the Land: Building Amazon Culture at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

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Every year in August, thousands of womyn from around the globe make a journey that takes them from the liminal world of patriarchal marginalization, oppression, and violence to the safety of a land where they build a matriarchal culture of families, homes, and sacred traditions. This new culture binds these womyn to each other as a people and to the 650 acres in Michigan that they call their homeland. This dissertation is a five-year ethnographic study of the cultural community womyn build at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. It focuses on the experiences of 32 participants, and the physical work they do to create a world that places their minds and bodies, their values and experiences, and their relationships in the center of their own community structures. By inverting the concept of liminality used to describe lesbian cultural spaces, this study reframes these womyn as a diasporic group who journey home once each year to reconnect with their home, family and sacred traditions. The significance of the study is that it demonstrates the ways womyn resist patriarchal oppression by using love as a technology for building a matriarchal culture. Theoretically, by inverting the concept of liminality, researchers might better understand and articulate the interlocking structures of power and oppression, as well as the "methodologies" that marginalized people use to resist oppressive forces in American culture.