A lot of public attention goes to the promise of electric vehicles, meaning less oil will be needed for road transport. What remains hidden, however, are the disruptive transformations of the landscapes and societies through which lithium travels. It is these transformations that the project brings into public view. For we are convinced that through empirical assessment of the side effects of this planetary strategy to respond to global warming, we can avoid implementing climate solutions that end up worsening our current social and environmental problems.
The research questions of WOL are:
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?
Worlds of Lithium innovatively answer these questions through a transnational documentation of different interrelated knowledges and practices of four groups of actors:
We investigate how these actors collaborate; how they clash; and how multiple worlds are generated in social and material practices ‘powered’ by lithium. By doing so, the project will challenge the modern imagination of transitions towards sustainability as if they were taking place in a given ‘container universe’ and will illustrate how transitions are taking place beyond Eurocentric discourse and practice.
Thus, the project will articulate lessons springing from these co-existing knowledges and practices of people engaging with transformative landscapes, and will innovatively theorize new imaginaries to think about what counts as sustainable transitions in times of enhanced ecological sensitivity.
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.
By Cristobal Bonelli and Marisol de la Cadena.
For the book: Ecological Reparation: Repair, Remediation and Resurgence in Social and Environmental Conflict. Bristol University Press (BUP). Edited by Maddalena Tacchetti, Dimitris Papadopoulos and Maria Puig de la Bellacasa. Forthcoming 2021.
By Cristobal Bonelli and Cristina Dorador.
In Tapuya, Latino American Science, Technology and Society. Special Issue Ends in Other Terms: Uncommoning Extinction, co-edited by Marisol de la Cadena, Marcelo Gonzalez, Manuel Tironi. Forthcoming 2021.
By Marina Weinberg and Paulina Salinas.
For the book: Machines, genre et natures: anthropologie des territoires extractifs. Centre de Recherche et Documentation sur les Amériques (IHEAL-CREDA), París, France.
By Marina Weinberg.
In Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.
Refeered Journal Articles
Edited Special Issue
By Cristobal Bonelli and Antonia Walford (eds.)
Diálogos de Litio: S.O.S.tenibilidad y Extractivismo en el Desierto de Atacama
Para los años venideros (2022-2023), la serie explorará otros territorios en transformación en Noruega y China, para finalmente, durante el año 2024, generar una discusión interregional e intercontinental, que responda a los desafíos de repensar la S.O.S.tenibilidad, y estimule una conversación colaborativa entre expertas y expertos de los distintos países.
The series of seminars 'Dialogos de Litio: S.O.S.tenibilidad y Extractivismo en el desierto de Atacama' proposes public dialogues with prominent academics, local community referents, and experts in diverse areas of knowledge, linked to the problems and challenges posed by lithium extraction in the Atacama desert. The first 7 sessions of these colloquia will be held during 2021 (between March and September) and will be concentrated on analyzing distinct dynamics, complexities and processes of social and material transformation en the locations where lithium is extracted.
For the coming years (2022-2023), the series will explore other territories in transformation in Norway and China, and finally, during the year 2024, generate 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 CONFERENCES on this webpage to see the full agenda. Link
RESEARCH RESIDENCY UC Irvine 2022
Work, gender, and mining in the Atacama Desert.
“Pensar la Herida: Fragmentos desde los límites de la política” (Thinking wounds: Fragments from the limits of politics)
“Neoliberalismo de metal. De la extracción mineral a la abstracción financiera” (Metal Neoliberalism: From mineral extraction to financial abstraction)
Neoliberalismos en América Latina: Trayectorias, Subjetividades, y Vida Cotidiana
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch.
Fair Energy Transitions: The role of technology.
To fix or not to fix: Scales, survival units, and infra-decarbonisation in Northern Chile.
Department of Anthropology,
University of Amsterdam
Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
1001 NA Amsterdam