Burning Academics

School girls, 2003 (Photo by Dan Adams)

Academics have long been drawn to Burning Man, creating a rich and growing body of research and scholarly analysis regarding the event and the culture. Since 2010, the Burning Nerds group has served as a networking hub for researchers and thinkers in sociology, anthropology, architecture, art, economics, spirituality and many other disciplines.

Burning Man encourages academic projects by providing access to the Burning Man archives, photo and video passes on the playa, staff and participant interviews, and other forms of support for research and educational efforts. To request information for your own research, or to contact us about other academic opportunities, please fill out this form.

The Black Rock City Census is often cited in published works, too. Peruse the Census citations here.

In addition to the titles in our book list, some of which touch on academic themes, and the “Burning the Man, Academically” media collected by Lauren Christos for the Digital Academic Database, there is a wealth of academic writing about Burning Man.

Bowditch, Rachel (Performance & Ritual)
(2010) On the edge of Utopia: Performance and ritual at Burning Man. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press.
(2010)” The somatic city: Rehearsing utopia at the Burning Man festival.” XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. Urban Feel. #23
(2007) “Temple of tears: Revitalizing and inventing ritual in the Burning Man community in the Black Rock desert of Nevada.” The Journal of Religion &Theatre, Vol. 6, No. 2, 140-154.
(2007) “Dancing with fire: The ultimate effigy.” Puppetry International Magazine Issue 22.

Chen, Katherine K. (Organization & Sociology)
(2012) “Charismatizing the Routine: Storytelling for Meaning and Agency in the Burning Man Organization.” Qualitative Sociology 35(3): 311–334.
(2012). “Laboring for the Man: Augmenting Authority in a Voluntary Association.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations 34:135-164.
(2011) “Artistic Prosumption: Cocreative Destruction at Burning Man.” American Behavioral Scientist 56(4): 570-595.
(2011) “Lessons for Creative Cities from Burning Man: How organizations can sustain and disseminate a creative context.” City, Culture and Society 2(2): 93-100.
(2009) Enabling creative chaos: The organization behind the Burning Man event. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
(2009) “Authenticity at Burning Man.” Contexts 8(3): 65-67.
(2005) “Incendiary incentives: How the Burning Man organization motivates and manages volunteers.” In L. Gilmore & M. Van Proyen (Eds.), Afterburn: Reflections on Burning Man (109-128). Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
(2003) “Coordinating contributing members: How the Burning Man organization forms an ‘alternative’ artistic community in the Nevada Black Rock Desert.” Pp. 56-61 in People Shaping Places Shaping People Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Proceedings 34. Eds. Julia W. Robinson, Kathleen A. Harder, Herbert L. Pick, and Virajita Singh
(2003) “Burning Man lights a fire: The Nevada desert event doesn’t just produce art, it produces citizens.” In the Fray.
(2003) “Growth at Burning Man: An anthropological view.” Blacktop Gazette: Decompression Issue 2(3).
(2002) “The alternative in the desert: On the Burning Man organization.” Alumni Quarterly Colloquy: 16. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Harvard University.

Clupper, Wendy (Performance Art & Erotic Politics)
(2011) “Darwin loves you: The evolution of performance art thanks to Burning Man.” Festivals and Faires in the United States. New York: Mellon Press.
(2009) “The erotic politics of Critical Tits: Exhibitionism or feminist statement?” Political Performances: Theory and Practice. New York/ Amsterdam: Rodopi Press.
(2007) “Burning Man: Festival culture in the United States, Festival Culture in a Global Perspective.” Festivalising! Theatrical Events, Politics and Culture. New York/Amsterdam: Rodopi Press.

(2007) “The Performance Culture of Burning Man.” Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park. School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies.  http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/7405/1/umi-umd-4825.pdf

Doherty, Brian (Underground Culture)
(2004) This is Burning Man: The rise of a new American underground. New York NY: Little, Brown & Co.

Gauthier, Francois
(2015) “(Re)créer le monde à Burning Man. Jeu, don et créativité rituelle”, Revue du MAUSS semestrielle 46 : 220-250.
(2015) “Burning Man’s Gift-Driven, Event-Centred Diaspora ,” Revue du MAUSS permanente, 24 janvier 2015 [en ligne].
(2014) “Intimate circles and mass meetings. The social forms of event-structured religion in the era of globalized markets and hyper-mediatization” in Social Compass 61(2): 261-271.
(2013)  “The Enchantments of Consumer Capitalism. Beyond Belief at the Burning Man Festival,” dans F. Gauthier et T. Martikainen (dir.), Religion in Consumer Society. Brands, Consumers and Markets, Farnham : Ashgate, pp.143-158.
(2011) “Les HeeBeeGeeBee Healers au Festival Burning Man. Trois récits de guérison, Ethnologies, Vol.33, No.1 : 191-215.
(2010) “Du bon usage des drogues en religion. Consommations néo-chamaniques à Burning Man,” Drogues, santé et société, Vol.8, No 1 : 202-237.
(2010)  “De l’errance à l’extase : les quêtes du Festival Burning Man,” dans Nicolas Ducournau, Jocelyn Lachance, Louis Mathiot et Meryem Sellami (dir.), La recherche d’extase chez les jeunes. Troubles alimentaires, Scarifications, Psychotropes, Errances, Ste-Foy (Québec), Presses de l’Université Laval, pp. 63-71.
(2004) “Le Temple de l’Honneur. Rituels et deuils au Festival Burning Man,” dans Frontières, Vol. 17, No 1 : 87-90.

Gilmore, Lee (Spirituality & Ritual)
(2010) Theatre in a crowded fire: Ritual and spirituality at Burning Man, University of California Press. Gilmore, L., & Van Proyen, M. (Eds.).
(2005) Afterburn: Reflections on Burning Man. Albequerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
(2003) “Fires of the heart: Ritual, pilgrimage and transformation at Burning Man.” In L. Gilmore & M. Van Proyen (Eds.), Afterburn: Reflections on Burning Man (43-62). Albequerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Heller, S. Megan (Ritual)
(2016) “Memories of Burning Man.” In Clare L. Boulanger (Ed.), Reflecting on America: Anthropological Views of U.S. Culture, 2nd edition. Taylor & Francis / Routledge. p.181-192.

Hockett, Jeremy (Ethnography & Self)
(2005) “Participant observation and the study of self: Burning Man as ethnographic experience.” In L. Gilmore & M. Van Proyen (Eds.), Afterburn: Reflections on Burning Man. Albequerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Hoover, Duane J. (Organization & Management)
(2008) “Realizing the artful in management education and development: Smoldering examples from the Burning Man Project.” Journal of Management and Organization. November.

Institute of Noetic Sciences (Collective Consciousness)
(2017) “A Disturbance in the Force: Exploring Collective Consciousness at Burning Man Ions Report. March.

Ji, Yuan (Business Law)
(2013) “Burning Man: A case study of altruism thriving in a for-profit organiational form and the rationales for LLC -to-nonprofit conversion.” In Hastings Business Law Journal. Vol 9-3.  p.449-484. UCLA.

Kehoe, Kara Leeann (Communications)
(2011) Thesis: “Burning Man Was Better Next Year.a phenomenology of community identity in the Black Rock counterculture.” California State University, Sacramento. Communication Studies Department.

Kozinets, Robert V & Sherry Jr., John F. (Marketing, Social Media & Consumer Culture)
Kozinets, Robert V & Sherry Jr., John F.
(2007) “Agents in paradise: Experiential co-creation through emplacement, ritualization, and community,” in Consuming Experiences, ed. Antonella Carù and Bernard Cova, London and New York: Routledge, 17-33.
(2007) “Comedy of the commons: Nomadic spirituality at Burning Man.” In R. Belk & J.F. Sherry Jr. (Eds.), Consumer Culture Theory, Vol. 11 of Research in Consumer Behavior (119-147). Oxford: Elsevier.
(2005) “Welcome to the Black Rock Café.” In L. Gilmore & M. Van Proyen (Eds.), Afterburn: Reflections on Burning Man (87-106). Albequerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
(2004) “Dancing on common ground: Exploring the sacred at Burning Man.” In G. St. John (Eds.), Rave Culture and Religion (287-303). New York and London: Routledge.
(2003) “Sacred iconography in secular space: Altars, alters, and alterity at the Burning Man project.” in Contemporary Consumption Rituals: A Research Anthology, eds. Cele Otnes and Tina Lowrey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 291-311.
(2003) “The moment of infinite fire.” In S. Brown & J.F. Sherry Jr. (Eds.), Time, Space, and the Market: Retroscapes Rising (199-216). New York: M. E. Sharpe.
(2002) “Can consumers escape the market? Emancipatory illuminations from Burning Man.” Journal of Consumer Research, 29 (June), 20-38.
(2002) “Desert pilgrim.” Consumption, Markets and Culture. 5 (September), 171-186.

Kristen, Christen aka Lady Bee (Art)
(2007) “Fire Art of Burning Man. Playing with Fire.” Leonardo online Vol 40, no. 4
(2006) “Reconnecting Art and Life at Burning Man.” Raw Vision. Issue 57:Winter.
(2003) “The Outsider Art of Burning Man” Leonardo on-line vol. 36, no. 5.

Krukowski, Samantha, ed. (History of Burning Man)
(2014) “Playa Dust – Collected Stories from Burning Man.” Black Dog Publishing, UK. ISBN 978-1-908966-64-3.

Larsen, Dawn (Theatre Studies)
(2012) Burning Man: Professor Coaxes Theatre Students ‘Out of Their Boxes’ with Annual Field Trip to Counterculture Festival. Southern Theatre 53.2 (Spring 2012): 22-25, 29.

McCrae, Kateri S., Heller, Megan, John, Oliver P., & Gross, James J. (Emotional Regulation)
(2011) “Context-Dependent Emotion Regulation: Suppression and Reappraisal at the Burning Man Festival.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 33:4, 346-350 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973533.2011.614170

Moore, Stephan and Smallwood, Scott
(2011) “The Soundscape of Burning Man.” Soundscape Journal. Vol. 11, Number 1, Fall/Winter, pp. 47-51.
(2013) “Sound Art at Burning Man: Sonic Interventions in an Extreme Environment.” In Proceedings of the Symposium Musique et écologies du son / Music and ecologies of sound, Universite Paris 8, Paris, May 27-30, 2013. This paper describes the type of sound art work that is exhibited at the Burning Man Festival, focusing on the environmental and social factors that go into planning, conceptualizing, and building these artworks.

Moore, Stephan, Ogawa, David and Smallwood, Scott
(2011) “Metafiscal Services in the Middle of Nowhere.” Presented at the Radical Aesthetics and Politics: Intersections in Music, Art, and Critical Social Theory, Hunter College, CUNY, December. This paper describes at art project entitled the KTM (Karmic Teller Machine), a conceptual sound art piece that has been exhibited at the Burning Man event since 2007.

Morehead, John W. (Religion and Culture)
(2013) “Burning Man and Rituals of Inversion”. Encyclopedia of Humor Studies. Sage Publications.
(2011) “Burning Man Festival: A Life-Enhancing, Post-Christendom, ‘Middle Way’“. Saarbrücken, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing.
(2010) “From a Marginalized Community to a New Spiritual Order: Lessons at Burning Man Festival, in Perspectives on Post-Christendom Spiritualities” (119-144). Sydney: Morling College Press.
(2009) “Burning Man Festival in Alternative Interpretive Analysis“, Sacred Tribes Journal 4, no. 1: 19-41.
(2009) “Burning Man Festival“, Sacred Tribes Journal Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements.
(2009) “Alternative Cultural Events“, Sacred Tribes Journal Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements.

Pike, Sarah (Comparative Religion)
(2010) “Performing Grief in Formal and Informal Rituals at the Burning Man Festival,” in: Weinhold, J. & Samuel G. (eds.) “The Varieties of Ritual Experience,” in Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual. Volume II – Body, Performance, Agency and Experience, ed. by Axel Michaels et al. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz
(2005) “No Novenas for the Dead: Ritual Action and Communal Memory at the Temple of Tears,” in Afterburn: Reflections on Burning Man, edited by Lee Gilmore and Mark Van Proyen.  University of New Mexico Press
(2001) “Desert Goddesses and Apocalyptic Art: Making Sacred Space at the Burning Man Festival” in God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture, edited by Katherine McCarthy and Eric Mazur.  New York: Routledge, Inc.

Quaak, Larissa (Cultural Anthropology)
(2017) Re-presenting the present. The (r) evolution of the Burning Man Festival, Master Thesis, Cultural Anthropology.

Radziwill, N. M. & Benton, M. C. (Integrated Science and Technology)
(2013) “Burning Man – Quality and Innovation in the Spirit of Deming.” Journal for Quality and Participation, April, p. 7-11

Reisfeld Shafer, Stephanie
(2017) “The Impact of Immersion: A Case Study of Burning Man and its Implications for Audience Engagement,” American Journal of Arts Management, May 2017 issue

Rosenbloom, Rebecca E.
(2017) “Aural Substance: An Ethnographic Exploration of Regional Burn Soundscapes,” MA Thesis, Temple University, 2017

St. John, Graham
(2017) Charms War: Dance Camps and Sound Cars at Burning Man. In Graham St John, ed., Weekend Societies: Electronic Dance Music Festivals and Event-Cultures, 219–244. New York: Bloomsbury.
(2017) Blazing Grace: The Gifted Culture of Burning Man. NANO: New American Notes Online, 11 (July), Special issue “Economies of the Gift in an Age of Austerity” edited by Jennie Stearns and J.P. Craig.
(2017) Civilised Tribalism: Burning Man, Event-Tribes and Maker Culture. Cultural Sociology. Online First. Nov 1 2017.
(2014) Begoggled in the Theater of Awe: Electronic Dance Music Culture at Burning Man. In Samantha Krukowski, ed., Playa Dust: Collected Stories from Burning Man, 144–159. London: Black Dog Publishing.
(2009) “12 noon, Black Rock City.” Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. 1(1).
(2007/11/09 – 3:22pm). “Begoggled in the mega-vibe @ Burningman.” Undergrowth.

Turner, Fred (New Media Production)
(2009) “Burning Man at Google: a cultural infrastructure for new media production.” New Media & Society 11, no. 1-2: 73-94.