In recent years, there has been an increased engagement throughout the social sciences with the study of extreme places and practices. Dangerous games and adventure tours have shifted from being marginal, exotic or mad to being more than merely acceptable. They are now exemplary, mainstream even: there are a variety of new types, increasing numbers of people are doing them and they are being appropriated and have infiltrated more and more contexts. This book argues that hazardous sports and adventure tourism have become rather paradoxical. As a set of activities where players and holidaymakers are closer to death or danger than they would otherwise be, they are the complete opposite of normal games or vacations. Adventure sports and tours reverse the general definition of a holiday as being an escape from the seriousness of everyday life, as in most cases, they are innately serious, requiring as they do 'life or death' decision-making. Beginning with the rise in colonial explorations and moving on to consider the Dangerous Sports Club of Oxford, this book examines the increasing phenomena of adventure sports such as bungy jumping, cliff jumping or 'tomb-stoning', surfing and parkour within a framework of positive risk. It explores how certain assumptions about knowledge, agency, the body and nature are beginning to coalesce around newly developing spheres of social relations. Additionally, extreme games have become activities that are germane to the dawning of green social thought and so the book also addresses issues that deal with the intimate connections that exist between pleasure and the moral responsibility towards the environment.
Patrick Laviolette, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Social & Cultural Anthropology, Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia
’Through the ethnographic lens of hazardous sports and adventure-tourism Patrick Laviolette examines the paradox of recreational excess: leisure activities that combine serious decision-making, fear, heroism, euphoria and risk. Body, danger and environment creatively combine, giving rise to "green" morality, social "thrillscapes" and an "existential imagination". The analysis is flamboyant; anthropology and phenomenology are married in a combustible mix. I highly recommend it.’ Nigel Rapport, University of St. Andrews, UK 'Extreme Landscapes of Leisure is a remarkable and unconventional book about the role of imagination in dangerous sports, such as cliff jumping and surfing, that play with danger and death. Laviolette is an anthropologist who draws on Kierkegaard's notions of fear and trembling and Bentham's idea of deep play, then combines these with his ethnographic training to write an evocative phenomenological account of his own experiences, especially in Cornwall and New Zealand. His book is filled with thoughtful reflexivity and intriguing narratives about extreme places, landscapes and activities that stretch mind and body to their limits and simultaneously define and challenge mundane life.' Edward Relph, University of Toronto, Canada 'I would thoroughly recommend the book to those interested in the field of high-risk activities. The book has an edge of excitement about these adventures that is gained through the lens of a first person view, and the interest and intellectual depth of a philosophical analysis of these experiences. Add to this the analysis of the landscapes that provide the physical context for dangerous pursuits, and there is much that is new here for scholars to consider.' Sites 'Overall, this book covers a broad array of extreme leisure perspectives, and the Introduction in particular opens up an informative philosophical discussion on the phenomenology and anthropology of bodily experience. This book will make good reading for gr