From Radical to Routine: BURNING MAN AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF A COUNTERCULTURAL MOVEMENT
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Type of Work89 p.
ProgramMA in Cultural Sustainability
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SubjectsBurning Man (Festival) -- Cultural evolution.
Burning Man (Festival) -- Cultural relations.
Cultural sustainability -- Capstone (Graduate)
Burning Man refers to three entities; a community of motivated creatives, an organizational body and the week-long Nevada-desert art event that attracts up to 70,000 participants annually and culminates in the burning of a large effigy. All three iterations are rapidly growing and ask participants to embrace Ten Principles (or social ideals held in common) in order to create the liminal space that is ripe for individual and social transformation inherent to the Burning Man experience. With what may be considered widespread success of the event, Burning Man is grappling with how to sustain, protect and grow the culture of the event and community with many new participants each year. This work explores how the radical, avant-garde and transgressive event has necessarily changed over its 29-year history and how institutionalization, normalization and regulation has affected the spirit of curiosity, ingenuity and communitas at the heart of this extreme experience. It examines the trajectory of emergent culture, how emergent and dominant cultures interface and the role of cultural incorporation in this process. This work points to new directions for the practice and growing body of Cultural Sustainability work and theory by focusing on emerging cultural phenomenon and analyzing how Cultural Sustainability practices may be applied to the conscious creation/evolution of a culture.