“Transformational festivals” are popular contemporary platforms for the performance of community arts. These intentional participatory events have become powerful vehicles for transnational cultures motivated to initiate transit from the conditions of late modernity to mindful, humanistic, and ecologically sustainable futures. Held annually in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and replicated in over 80 events worldwide, Burning Man is widely recognised as a prototype transformational event. And yet, the transformative dynamics of Burning Man are significantly under-researched. This project will correct this paucity though a multi-sited study focussing on Burning Man as a liminal culture and sonorous society. While the ephemeral and polyphonic conditions of this and other transformational event-cultures are obstacles for researchers, an audio-ethnography of Burning Man is designed to evaluate the liminal architecture and transformational logics of this event-centred movement. Developing new understanding of event-sonicity, the fellowship will interrogate this movement occupying the frontiers of change. The ER will develop skills in sound recording, editing and production, with training advancing comprehension of the socio-sonic aesthetics of Burning Man events. Throughout the project, the ER will undertake fieldwork across two signature projects at three unique field sites, and in addition to this audiography, will co-edit with the adviser a journal special issue, produce two journal articles, publish two industry articles, present at two conferences, organise a symposium, and host two industry roundtables. Training in teaching, research and academic administration will provide a career development plan preparing the ER for a permanent academic post. The project will be integral to the consolidation of festive studies, sound studies and event-culture research as connected interdisciplinary fields of research in which the ER and adviser have each made notable contributions.
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