Michael Taussig’s theory of transgression understands there to be a fundamental delineation between that which is classified as profane, and that which is classified as sacred. The first domain is that of the ordinary, the day-to-day, and regular, while the latter is that of the extraordinary, the respected, and otherwise profound. Taussig stresses the importance of the act of moving between these domains, putting forth the position that it is this action that brings the boundary between them into being and is the event that facilitates the most significant experience of the sacred. This paper examines the international scavenger hunt known as “Gishwhes,” using these terms to understand the appeal of the individual acts that constitute the event, and the enduring impact of the Hunt on those involved with it. This paper also looks at the implications of applying a theory developed for application to religious phenomena to a secular event. I put forth the conclusion that such an application is beneficial for throwing into sharp relief the ways in which scholarship around the concept of the sacred can be made more diverse, how religious studies can be made more complex, how secular phenomena can be considered with equal weight as religious experiences, and how doing so benefits a larger field of study regarding profound human experiences.


Religions; Religions -- Philosophy; Religions -- History


Relics, Remnants, and Religion: an Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies

Publication Date




Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


The University of Puget Sound