Megan Heller (the Countess of the Black Rock City Census) introduces the Burning Nerds event at Ashram Galactica, Black Rock City. Lee Gilmore, author of Theatre in a Crowded Fire, stands in left hand corner. Photo by Cesar Cortes, 2011

Scholars and academics have long found Black Rock City ripe for research projects and scholarly analysis. Burning Man’s Communications Department has served as a liaison to these 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.


In 2010, the Jack Rabbit Speaks newsletter issued an invitation to scholars, educators, and academics to attend the first official “Burning Nerds” Meet and Greet, held on Friday, September 3rd at Hotel Ashram Galactica in Black Rock City. Over 200 academics attended; sociology, anthropology, performance, art, business, spirituality and religion, business, and dozens of other disciplines were represented at this lively affair, and several researchers took the stage to provide insights into their current or planned projects about Burning Man and our related culture. Based on the enthusiasm from that event, we formed a Burning Nerds Google group, built this webpage, and now we meet annually in Black Rock City.
[para_break color=’red’]

Related Academic Reading, Articles, and Collaborations

The Black Rock Census is a collaborative research project that began in 2002. Volunteers include professors and students from universities in Canada and the United States representing a range of disciplines. The Census results are distributed in the AfterBurn report online, on the playa, and in academic publications. The information is also used by the Burning Man organization to better represent the interests of the people of Black Rock City in negotiations with authorities in the state of Nevada and the US federal government. Thank you to those of you who have filled out the Census form in the past. Knowledge is power! You can become one of our volunteers simply by emailing census (at) burningman (dot) com and telling us about yourself and your interest in the Census.

Peruse a full list of books, featuring a wide variety of topics including photography, art and/or radical culture — but all featuring the Man — in the Burning Bibliography.

Are you interested in connecting with other Burning Man academics and scholars? Join the Burning Nerds Google Group to stay updated on recent, relevant, and ongoing research about our collective experience in Black Rock City, and find out about meet-ups, collaborations, and future events.  One Burning Nerd, Lauren Christos of Florida International University, has created a digital academic bibliography of Burning Man called Burning the Man, Academically.

Burning Man’s annual AfterBurn Report is the year-end overview of the Burning Man Project, our objectives, and the successes and obstacles we encounter each year. If you seek data about participants or departmental/organizational information, you’ll find it here, dating back to 2001. (Note: each year’s annual report is typically available the following spring.)

Read what Founding Director Larry Harvey has written about Burning Man.

To send us a message regarding works you’d like to see listed on this page, request information for your own research, or to contact us about other academic opportunities, email us at academics (at) burningman (dot) com.

Interested in what the press has to say about the event? Media coverage of the event is archived here.
[para_break color=’red’]

Center Camp Cafe Speaker Series

You have a brain. And expertise. And no fear of dialogues with strangers. Speak on the Playa. Contact sleepless (at) burningman (dot) com to find out more.
[para_break color=’red’]

Published Academic Work on Burning Man

Authors and Subject

Bowditch, Rachel: Performance & Ritual
Chen, Katherine: Organization & Sociology
Clupper, Wendy: Performance Art & Erotic Politics
Doherty, Brian: American Underground

Gautier, Francois:  Gifting; Religion; Global diasporisation and efflorescence
Gilmore, Lee: Spirituality & Ritual
Hockett, Jeremy: Ethnography & Self

Hoover, Duane: Organization & Management

Ji, Yuan: Business Law
Kehoe, Kara Leeann: Communications
Kozinetz, R. & Sherry Jr., John: Marketing, Social Media & Consumer Culture
Kristen, Christen aka Lady Bee: Art Curation
Larsen, Dawn: Theatre Studies
McRae Kateri & Heller, Megan, et al: Emotion Regulation
Morehead, John W.: Religion and Culture

Pike, Sarah: Comparative Religion
Quaak, Larissa: Cultural Anthropology

Radziwill, Nicole & Benton, Morgan C: Integrated Science & Technology
St. John, Graham: Electronic Dance Culture
Turner, Fred: New Media Production

Bowditch, Rachel
(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.
(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). Albequerque, 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
(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.

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

Gauthier, Francois

(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.

Gilmore, Lee
(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.

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

Ji, Yuan

(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
(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.
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
(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.

Larsen, Dawn
(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.

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

Morehead, John W.
(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

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

Radziwill, N. M. & Benton, M. C.

(2013) “Burning Man – Quality and Innovation in the Spirit of Deming.” Journal for Quality and Participation, April, p. 7-11

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