Tracing the Landscape: Re-Enchantment, Play, and Spirituality in Parkour

Brett David Potter
2019 Religions  
Parkour, along with "free-running", is a relatively new but increasingly ubiquitous sport with possibilities for new configurations of ecology and spirituality in global urban contexts. Parkour differs significantly from traditional sports in its use of existing urban topography including walls, fences, and rooftops as an obstacle course/playground to be creatively navigated. Both parkour and "free-running", in their haptic, intuitive exploration of the environment retrieve an enchanted notion
more » ... n enchanted notion of place with analogues in the religious language of pilgrimage. The parkour practitioner or traceur/traceuse exemplifies what Michael Atkinson terms "human reclamation"—a reclaiming of the body in space, and of the urban environment itself—which can be seen as a form of playful, creative spirituality based on "aligning the mind, body, and spirit within the environmental spaces at hand". This study will subsequently examine parkour at the intersection of spirituality, phenomenology, and ecology in three ways: (1) As a returning of sport to a more "enchanted" ecological consciousness through poeisis and touch; (2) a recovery of the lost "play-element" in sport (Huizinga); and (3) a recovery of the human body attuned to our evolutionary past.
doi:10.3390/rel10090505 fatcat:7c6vizynqbexfnyhio3on4xvmm