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Burning Man Festival
Burning Man Festival is an intentional community and alternative cultural event involving 50,000 people that meet annually in the desert of Nevada. Scholarly analysis of the festival tends to interpret it through Victor Turner’s framework of liminality and ritual. While this perspective sheds valuable light on understanding the event, other theoretical frameworks are helpful, including the “homeless mind” and secondary institutions thesis of Peter Berger, Brigitte Berger, and Hansfried Kellner used to explain the 1960s counterculture, updated by Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead to include the turn to the self now involving life-enhancing secondary institutions. Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone also presents promising interpretive options for understanding this event. From these perspectives, Burning Man may be understood as an alternative cultural event that functions as a secondary institution and new spiritual outlet in rejection of mainstream institutions and religion.
John W. Morehead
John W. Morehead has an MA in intercultural studies from Salt Lake Theological Seminary. His research areas include new religions, and religion and popular culture. He is the Director of the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies.