Carolyn L. WhiteNov 17, 2021
The Archaeology of Burning Man
The Rise and Fall of Black Rock City
University of New Mexico Press 2020
How do you do archaeological research on a place that exists for only one week per year, in the middle of the Nevada desert, and is based on the ethos of "leave no trace?" In The Archaeology of Burning Man: The Rise and Fall of Black Rock City (U New Mexico Press, 2020), Dr. Carolyn White, a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, sets out to tackle just this question. Using the methods of contemporary archaeology, White spent a decade attending the annual Burning Man event in the desert of northwestern Nevada, chronicling the construction, the day to day life, and the dismantling of Black Rock City, which is among the largest cities in the state for the short time exists every August and September. White examines the various ways that people live in Black Rock, the semi-invisible infrastructure and bureaucracy which keep it running and keep its 75,000 residents safe, and the day to day life in the city itself. White shows a side of Burning Man not often seen by outsiders, and one that runs counter to the chaotic, Instagram-ified, narrative often presented in mainstream media.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.