In the process of working towards my thesis, I’ve found tighter boundaries that I’m comfortable with. Following my experiences and observations in Black Rock City this year, I’m now seeing my thesis as an exploration of gentrification as a necessary part of the trajectory of emergent culture (and its interaction with dominant mainstream culture) and using Burning Man as a case study (of gentrification)
I want to look at gentrification as a stage of cultural evolution – part of emergent culture’s progression and interaction with dominant forces. I think this is a conversation that needs to be had but is often stalled due to political and emotional sensitivities. I believe that exploring the gentrification of Burning Man offers a case study that is sufficiently distant to allow for objective reasoning. This focus ties in my urban revitalization work and also makes my work of use to urbanists who have little interest in Burning Man but for whom the ‘g’ word is ever present.
As the world’s population is increasingly urbanised and cultures forced to face one another and adapt, I believe we need to develop a more nuanced and complex understanding and vocabulary for gentrification and that this work could be a part of that philosophical and political pursuit.