RENO, Nev. — Nevada’s Burning Man counter-culture festival has inspired spin-off events around the world that are now being studied by Swiss government anthropologists and sociologists.
The Swiss National Science Foundation has spent more than $100,000 on academics focusing on the attendees and impact of Burning Man’s regional events and groups around the world, particularly in Europe.
Burning Man spokeswoman Megan Miller said Europeans are extremely receptive to those principles.
“In Europe, there’s a greater sense of ‘we’ versus ‘I.’ It’s much more about the collective,” Miller said.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports the study from the University of Fribourg is titled “Burning Progeny.”
The annual counter-culture festival has been held since 1990 in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert 150 miles north of Reno. Burning Man is built around 10 core principles such as self-reliance, communal effort and civic responsibility.
Scholars in the past have studied the event’s fashion, sexuality and architecture.
The focus of the Swiss research is instead on the offshoot events, such as Nowhere, a mini-festival in Spain, a Greek event on ships in the Mediterranean Sea, and occasional gatherings like those held in Ireland.
The researchers’ preliminary findings, released this month, found attendees of the events became more creative, open-minded, confident and conscious of their interactions with the environment and other people.
The Burners, as attendees are called, felt the regional events were more intimate, allowing for more freedom and longer-lasting relationships.
The researchers plan to publish a complete study in 2019 and hope it will be used by other anthropologists and sociologists but also festival organizers.
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