Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Cynthia L. Baron
Bungee (or sometimes bungy) jumping is the first and probably the best-known of the 20th century's extreme sports—so ubiquitous that it has become a standard metaphor for risky behavior, like rocket science for intellectual challenge or sliced bread for great ideas. This high-wire game of chicken was inspired by a Polynesian rite of passage called the N'gol , practiced on Penticost Island in the Vanuatu archipelago. Polynesian society is a case study in risk taking. Beginning in the Fiji islands around 3,500 years ago, the Polynesians moved inexorably eastward in a remarkable human colonization that ended just short of South America. They set out without a single compass, map or assurance that there was anything beyond their shores but ocean. Along the way, each island developed its own variations on the rituals of the protoculture. N'gol —land-diving—is one of these variations. At ...