Burning Man, the prototypical transformational event culture, has spawned transnational projects, events, and networks that span the United States, China, and Taiwan. These include authorized events produced by participants who aim to adhere to the principle of “decommodification” espoused by the San Francisco-based non-profit Burning Man Project, as well as unauthorized commercial copycats, some of which have been financially backed by the Chinese Communist Party. Based on long-term action research and replete with ethnographic data, this presentation narrates a history of Burning Man’s varied manifestations, transformations, and hybridizations. Reflecting on the tensions between the creative and commodifiable aspects of this event culture, it argues that Burning Man’s consolidation as a global symbol of cultural capital points to an ideological and social convergence between the United States and China, undercutting the resumption of Cold War rhetoric that has shrouded the recent turn in their geopolitical relationship. In so doing, this influential festival culture proffers a suggestively surreal counterpoint to the “capitalist realism” oft said to characterize the post-1989 epoch.
Mots clés : transformational festival|Burning Man|event culture|political economy|China