In summer 2018, a team of seven researchers launched an ambitious research project centred around Burning Man lead by Dr. Jukka-Pekka Heikkilä. Burning Man is a community that has developed a strong identity that thousands of people around the globe share and identify with emotionally. Yearly, around 70,000 members of the Burning Man community meet in a week-long event in Black Rock City that represents the culmination of the community’s principles.
The aim of Burning Stories research project is to study the global Burning Man community and, in particular, the participants of Black Rock City. We seek to explain the processes through which community membership of Burning Man participants evolves across time and space, and how this, in turn, affects their experience of the collective Burning Man identity. Despite the existing, vast scholarly interest towards Burning Man, there is a very limited understanding of how Burning Man’s immersive experiences transform individuals, let alone society.
The data collection is now in action! It will consist of stories that are collected in two parts: prior and after the event. Visiting Black Rock City often brings about life-changing experiences and stories. These stories are important not only for personal or community development but also for science and our understanding of the world.
Over the next few years, our project is intended to generate scientific knowledge about the Burning Man community and to help the community further flourish by collecting stories that will be shared back to the community.
Visit the Burning Stories website to learn more about the project and to watch an animation that explains what this project is about and how art is full of exciting possibilities for scientists.