Worlds of Lithium is an anthropological study of the replacement of fossil fuel transport with a new fleet of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries.
How could we imagine, think, feel and practice decoloniality in the 21st century, an era deeply marked by ecological crisis, wars, social outbursts and the exhaustion of our conceptual tools to understand the world?
And how would it be possible to undo our habitual ways of knowing in a way that wonder, and new openings, are continuously possible in the presence of those others we are with?
Anthropology is an interesting case to experiment and think with these questions, as it is the paradigmatic heir of colonial history, scientific racism and capitalist extractivism. In this Worlds of Lithium lecture, Marisol de La Cadena will explore not knowing as epistemic stance and practice towards the possibility of decolonial analysis.
Anthropology, being a quintessential heir of colonial thought and practice, is a discipline that continuously struggles to undo modes of thought deeply rooted in grammars that separate objects from subjects, human from non-humans, self and other, all grammars that have been the conditions of possibility to silence a pluriverse of voices through various forms of violence, exclusions and erasures. Tonight, Marisol de la Cadena will explore not knowing as epistemic stance and practice towards the possibility of decolonial analysis. This not knowing does not imply “not knowing yet.” It does not embrace the modernist ethos of a better, enlightened future, prone to be, indeed, known. Rather than resulting from research as a final and closed outcome, “not knowing” guides it along an open-ended process.
In her talk, De la Cadena will explore “not knowing” as an analytic method and an epistemic stance that performs intertwined tasks: it prevents researchers from merely producing “theoretical” knowledge emerging in the absence of those who inspired its sense of inquiry and curiosity. Besides this, “not knowing” takes our ways of thinking to the limit of its possibilities. Indeed, the reason of the talk is to think how “not knowing” may emerge as a possibility towards decolonial thinking—a phrase in which the processual gerund ‘thinking’ wants to indicate an endless task which does not stop with denunciation, theoretical critique, or renewed moral categorizations. Marisol de la Cadena will propose not knowing as a tool to inhabit learning as an unfinished domain, where decoloniality appears as an ongoing adventure rather as an state awaiting to be achieved.This talk has been co-organized with SPUI25, and registration is needed. Online option is also possible at the time of registration in the following link: https://spui25.nl/programma/not-knowing-a-possibility-towards-decolonial-thinking...
July 31, 2023
As climate and ecological collapse looms large, the boundary between knowing and acting in (social) science has been shifting. While environmental scientists have increasingly come closer to policy and activism in order to change the current unsustainable trajectory, the past decades witnessed the growing interest of anthropologists in collaboration with interlocutors. In this talk, professor Morita will discuss an experimental mode of anthropology as a collaborative making of infrastructure for change by drawing on his experience in grass roots experiments to link timber production with forest ecological cycles.
In the past few decades, growing number of Japanese social entrepreneurs and lifestyle activists migrated to rural areas of the country. Many see abandoned houses and farmlands in these depopulated areas as opportunities to experiment on sustainable living and community economy.
The Forest of Craft is one such small-scale experiment to reconnect industry with forest ecological cycles. The project takes up traditional Japanese craft that developed sophisticated use of local forest resources as a model for this circular vision. Through this collaboration, the interlocutor and professor Morita ended up in experimenting with DIY making and ethnography as major means for their effort to reinstall in individuals and the industry sensibility to be affected by changing environment and nonhuman others. This talk put this experience in the context of current debates on collaboration in anthropology, STS and beyond to explore a role of anthropology in a grassroots alliance to tackle imminent ecological crises.
This talk is part of the series 'ACTION,CLIMATE, CRISIS: Anthropological tales in times of climate change’, co-organized by Cristobal Bonelli and Branwyn Poleykett and sponsored by the Worlds of Lithium ERC project....
July 30, 2023
Ursula Le Guin (1986) once wrote a story that attempted to displace the patriarchal white male hero dominating stories about tecno-heroic-human evolution, and reminded us that the dominant language had to be continuously reinvented, just as Virginia Woolf proposed to define a hero, in her notebook 'Glossary', as a bottle; heroism was defined as “botulism.” Le Guin, inspired by the containment offered by the bottle, proposed to imagine a container, a carrier bag - not a masculinised weapon - as a figure that could displace the figure of the hero that is so present in the mythology of "modern technology".
'A nice side effect of eschewing the linear, progressive, arrow-killing-Time mode of the techno-heroic, and redefining technology and science as fundamentally a carry bag, rather than a weapon of domination, is that science fiction can then be understood as a much less rigid and narrow field - not necessarily Promethean or apocalyptic at all but, in fact, a genre that is much more realistic that it is mythological. It's a strange realism - but it's a strange reality'.
This workshop is inspired by this strange realism and aims at gathering vital field-work-stories which will hopefully give us, as Le Guin suggested, 'words of the other story, the untold one, the life story that is not under heroic human control’. But rather than mobilizing science fiction as a genre for experimentation, the workshop has been thought as a safe place where to experiment with creative writing, by particularly focusing on how we can ‘dramatize’ the problem of non-human materiality in times of enhanced ecological sensibility and environmental catastrophes.
We want to get inspired by, and learn from, what we call Stories of Eco-Drama, in which the metaphor of dramaturgy is mobilized to explore material compositions and decompositions taking place in specific places, belonging to different pasts, enabling particular futures, and evolving among different actors performing on situated, indeterminate, incomplete and ever-transforming critical ecologies. Indeed, the prefix ‘eco’ invites participants to tell stories that are concerned with ecological tensions, being ‘eco’ an index for both ecology as environment as well as the understanding of ecology as the transformative composition and decomposition of actors at stake in particular, often dramatic, ongoing situations.
The workshop aims at exploring a way of thinking and writing that decenters the human as the main protagonist of our stories. Non-human actors and materialities here really matter, and in this workshop we will follow ‘actors’ in quite a literal way. This is why we also work with the heuristic of an eco-dramaturgy, as we are concerned with how ‘actors’ -understood quite literally as an ‘actor’ of our dramatic times- “performs” different characters in diverse transformative compositions and decompositions entangled with different temporalities.
In this workshop, then, we are both concerned with ways of dramatizing the non-human in our writing, as well as with following actors dramaturgically. The latter means witnessing and trying to give an account of the main reactions at stake in your research field (chemical, political, affective, what have you) as well as to those transformations occurring beyond the problem-solutions paradigm, so hegemonically present in eco-modern attempts to deal with our eco-political predicament. Indeed, rather than embracing heroic success stories or offering normative, moral critiques, we prefer to experiment with practicing an eco-dramaturgy where acting, reacting, and transforming, while ‘staying with the trouble’, entails to stay with, and think and feel, open-ended stories happening far away from heroic ends.
Following from this, the workshop asks:
How to dramatize the non-human within stories of ecological transformation?
What counts as a ‘reaction’ in our stories of ecological composition and decomposition?
What can we learn from the key transformations at stake in our research-fields and their transformative non-human actors and materialities?
Program of the day:
1.30-1.50: Brief Introduction Bonelli plus very short presentation of participants
1.50-2.20: Think Piece 1
Controlling unwanted reactions: a visit to an New Energy Vehicles (NEV) factory
Writer: Pablo Ampuero. Story tellers: Anita Hardon & Sam van der Lugt2.20-2.50. Think Piece 2
Unclean: a drama in five actsWriter: Annemarie Mol. Story tellers: Laurens Bakker & Wakana Suzuki
2.50-3.20: Think Piece 3On Turbulence Writer: Tina Harris. Story tellers: Roos Metselaar & Maksim Novokreshchenov
3.30-4: Think Piece 4Dutch water stories
Writer: Oskar Verkaaik. Story tellers: Fenna Smits & Rene Nissen
4-4.30: Think piece 5
Harlequin’s Rebellion. Old regimes, new subversions
Writer: Martha-Cecilia Dietrich. Story tellers: Marina Weinberg & Nicolas Sollazzo
4.30-5: Think Piece 6
Smelly: A bromine way of making connections
Writer: Amade M’Charek Story tellers: Michelle Geraerts & Else Vogel
5-5.20: Final Discussion:
Rethinking ‘eco-drama’ and ‘reactions’: What can we learn from the think pieces? Marisol de la Cadena and Atsuro Morita
5.20-6: Open discussion.
June 15, 2023
Cristobal Bonelli participated at the workshop 'Anthropology and Degrowth: deepening the dialogue', aimed at exploring the (partial) connections between Anthropology and Degrowth scholarship, and which was organized by Gabriela Cabaña, Lorenzo Velotti and Luisa Muñoz Sueiro.
Cristobal also presented part of his ethnographic findings within lithium extractive industries at the public roundtable 'Re-imagining transitions out of the growth paradigm', where we presented his work in progress paper 'Reducing Emissions and Omissions by reactivating common sense: the Case of Lithium'.
This was an inspiring event that brought together academics, researchers, activists, and artists experimenting with the creation of alliances in different parts of the world, and concerned with re-making academic knowledge as a useful tool beyond universities and beyond bounded, self-referential, scholarship....
June 11, 2023
In this lecture, Dr. Hugo Romero presented a critical analysis of Chile’s new lithium policy, based on the physical geographic knowledge and the socio-ecological and territorial power relations that exist in the salt flats of the Atacama Desert.
This lecture was co-organized with Cedla, the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation at the University of Amsterdam, and also included the participation of Chilean geographer Marcela Robles....
June 10, 2023
May 11, 2023
May 2, 2023
March 24, 2023
March 23, 2023
Cristobal Bonelli and Branwyn Poleykett organized the second session of the series of seminars ‘Action, Climate, Crisis: Anthropological tales in times of climate change’, which brings scholars working on climate and environmental crisis to Amsterdam to engage with UvA anthropologists.
The second seminar of the series was in charged by Professor Jennifer Gabrys, Chair in Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, and had Tina Harris and Martha Dietrich as discussants.
Gabrys’ talk entitled Atmospheric Citizens: How to Make Breathable Worlds built upon material from the book ‘Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle’, and discussed how atmospheric citizens are constituted through practices of sensing environments and working to build more breathable worlds. It described collaborations to monitor air pollution from fracking infrastructure, to document emissions in urban environments, and to create air-quality gardens. Professor Gabrys showed how people respond to, care for, and struggle to transform environmental conditions informs the political subjects and collectives they become as they strive for more breathable worlds....
March 23, 2023
November 29, 2022
The ERC Worlds of Lithium team held a closed workshop with Dr Martina Gamba (CONICET) to learn more about her knowledge and experience as a researcher on the physics and chemistry of lithium-ion batteries....
November 28, 2022
November 28, 2022
Dr Cristóbal Bonelli gave keynote lecture at the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC) on 9 November 2022. Dr Bonelli’s presentation was titled “A Chemical Dramaturgy of Lithium: Learning from Metamorphic Worlds” and was prepared together with Dr Martina Gamba (CONICET)....
November 9, 2022
November 7, 2022
November 7, 2022
September 22, 2022
August 10, 2022
August 8, 2022
July 27, 2022
Dr Pablo Ampuero-Ruiz co-convened with Jonas Köppel (The Graduate Institute of Geneva) the panel “Uncommon Explorations between Green Technologies, Climate Hopes, and the Anthropological Imagination” at the EASA 2022 Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Both sessions of the panel were chaired by Dr Cristóbal Bonelli, PI of Worlds of Lithium. The papers authored by Dr Marina Weinberg, Zane Datava (NUST) and Anna-Sophie Hobi (Norwegian University of Life Sciences), and Dr Diane Ayeh (Heimholtz Centre for Environmental Research, UFZ) were discussed by Dr Simone Abram (Durham University). In the second session, Dr Horacio Ortiz (CNRS & ECNU) discussed papers by Dr Pauline Destrée (Durham University), Daniela Soto (University of Sussex), Kārlis Lakševics (Wageningen University & Research), and Dr Selina Gallo-Cruz (Syracuse University).
Recordings of first and second session are available through our YouTube channel....
July 27, 2022
June 15, 2022
June 15, 2022
May 24, 2022
May 5, 2022
April 11, 2022
February 24, 2022
January 15, 2022
This scholarly collective explores the multiple analytical and empirical capacities that chemical philosophy and chemistry practice afford when thought materially and metaphorically. Our scholarly collective seeks to tap chemistry—the science of transformation—and its historically shifting methods as inspiration for thinking the unstable materializations of our world. It asks: what capacities and modalities emerge when we think of the chemical and chemical process as substantively, semiotically, and/or poetically agentive of processes far beyond the molecular? Our scholarly commitment to engage with chemistry is not because we deem it the purveyor of truths or the real. Rather, it is to embark on a speculative experiment: how might imaginative appropriation of chemistry’s transfiguring methods engender innovative ways for thinking turbulent sociomaterial relations? Broadly speaking, the residency would have two aims. First, it will develop ways to conceptualize the material beyond surface or shape, and attend to the cataclysmic and transformative chemistries (both literal and metaphoric) that constitute matters of concern in our worlds. Second, it will consider the affordances that thinking with chemistry extends—an affective and valanced grammar that (rather than denunciatory, deconstructive, or agnostic) suspends a processual ethic, and aesthetic, for navigating a world composed of complex relations.
Collaborators include: Suzana Sawyer (Associate Professor, Anthropology, UC Davis), Andrew Barry (Professor, Geography, University College London), Cristobal Bonelli (Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Amsterdam), Stefanie Graeter (Assistant Professor, Latin American Studies, University of Arizona), Evan Heplers-Smith (Assistant Professor, History, Duke University), Melody Jue (Associate Professor, English, UC Santa Barbara), Dimitris Papadopoulos (Professor, Science, Technology and Society, University of Nottingham), Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s (Associate Professor, Center for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick), Doug Rogers (Professor, Anthropology, Yale University), Nicholas Shapiro (Assistant Professor, Society and Genetics, UCLA), Jerry Zee (Assistant Professor, Anthropology & High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton), Marisol de la Cadena (Professor, Anthropology, UC Davis) and Cori Hayden (Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley).
January 14, 2022
December 17, 2021
December 14, 2021
December 2, 2021
December 1, 2021
November 24, 2021
November 5, 2021
October 25, 2021
The seminar series “Diálogos de Litio: S.O.S.tenibilidad y Extractivismo en el desierto de Atacama” presented an opportunity for public dialogues with relevant scholars, local leaders, and scholars of varied expertise around the problems and challenges associated with the extractivism of lithium in the Atacama desert. A total of seven sessions took part between March and September 2021, providing novel and multi-layered analyses about the dynamics, complexities, and the social and material transformations unfolding in the places where lithium is extracted.
For the coming years, the series will explore other territories in transformation in Norway and China. Finally, in the course of 2024, it expects to provide an interregional and intercontinental discussion that responds to the challenges of rethinking the S.O.S.tenibilidad, and stimulate a collaborative conversation between experts from different countries. Go to DIALOGUES on this webpage to see the full agenda....
September 24, 2021
September 23, 2021
November 28, 2020
November 28, 2020
September 17, 2020
March 5, 2020
The research questions
How does lithium connect, and disruptively transform, the landscapes and societies where lithium is extracted, turned into battery technology, used and potentially recycled?
How do processes of lithium extraction, battery production, and battery recycling relate to each other and what might this mean for energy policy?
The sites for these studies are Chile, the largest lithium producer in the world; China, the world leader in lithium-ion battery production, and Norway, a country with the highest levels of electric vehicle adoption.
Instead of simply following lithium along these sites, as if they formed a global-lineal chain, we will instead explore their interconnection, asking how production in China affects extraction in Chile and use in Norway, or how recycling lithium innovation in Norway will curb demand for lithium in Chile, or re-inform battery production in China.