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:

Natural and social scientists working around lithium.
Communities responding to ecological and social transformations.
Policy makers concerned with decarbonisation.
Companies involved in lithium extraction, battery production and battery recycling.

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.


Worlds of Lithium in Theory


From Brine-Water to Lithium Carbonate Mineral.


From batteries to recycling material


From lithium carbonate mineral to battery. Forthcoming in 2021.


In Preparation

Lithium, bipolar transitions and storage by extractivism

By Marina Weinberg and Cristobal Bonelli.

Under Review

CHILEAN STREETS: An archive against the grain of History

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.

Endangered Salares: Micro-Disasters in Northern Chile.

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.

Corporalidad, Género y Extractivismo: La identidad masculina minera en el norte de Chile.

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.

Cuerpos de cobre: Extractivismo en Chuquicamata, Chile.

By Marina Weinberg.  
In Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.

Refeered Journal Articles

2020 Políticas de la evidencia: entre posverdad, objetividad y etnografía.

By Marina Weinberg, Marcelo González and Cristobal Bonelli (eds.)
In Antípoda. Revista de Antropología y Arqueología 41 (4): 3-27.

Edited Special Issue

2020 Políticas de la evidencia: etnografías entre mundos unívocos y mundos múltiples. (‘Politics of evidence: ethnographies between univocal and equivocal worlds’)

By Marina Weinberg, Marcelo González and Cristobal Bonelli (eds.)
In Antípoda. Revista de Antropología y Arqueología 41 (4).

Edited Books

Forthcoming in 2021. Environmental Alterities.

By Cristobal Bonelli and Antonia Walford (eds.)
Mattering Press



Seminarios 2021

La serie de seminarios  'Dialogos de Litio: S.O.S.tenibilidad y Extractivismo en el desierto de Atacama' propone diálogos públicos con destacadas y destacados académicas y académicos, referentes de comunidades locales y expertas y expertos en diversas áreas del conocimiento, vinculados a las problemáticas y desafíos que nos presenta el extractivismo de litio en el desierto de Atacama. Las 7 primeras versiones de estos coloquios serán efectuadas durante el año 2021 (entre marzo y septiembre) y se concentrarán en analizar distintas dinámicas, complejidades y procesos de transformación social y material en los lugares desde donde el litio es extraído.

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



This Short-Term Collaborative Research Residency will gather scholars to explore the multiple analytic capacities that chemical philosophy and the practice of chemistry afford the humanistic social sciences when thought materially and metaphorically. The residence seeks to tap chemistry—a discipline long focused on volatile reactions, transmutations, and open systems—and its historically shifting methods as inspiration for thinking complex and unstable materializations of our world.   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).   Link


Inaugural meeting of the research network TraGeMA Estudios sobre Trabajo, Género y Minería en el Desierto de Atacama (November 2020). Organized by Marina Weinberg (Chile).

Paper Presentation

With Marisol de la Cadena at the Conference Mending Ecologies. Link



Cristobal Bonelli “Pensar la Herida: Fragmentos desde los límites de la política” (Thinking wounds:Fragments from the limits of politics, co-written with Marisol de la Cadena. Panel  Reivindicar el fragmento: la escritura etnográfica a partir de «lo fílmico»” organized by Richard Kernaghan  and Gabriela Zamorano     VI Congreso de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Antropología - November 23-28  Link


Marina Weinberg “Neoliberalismo de metal. De la extracción mineral a la abstracción financiera” (Metal NeoliberalismFrom mineral extraction to financial abstraction)Panel: Neoliberalismos en América Latina: Trayectorias, Subjetividades y Vida Cotidiana”   VI Congreso de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Antropología - November 23-28  Link


Marina Weinberg (UvA), Miguel Pérez (Departamento de Antropología Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile) and Virginia Manzano (CONICET, Instituto de Ciencias Antropológicas, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina)   Neoliberalismos en América Latina: Trayectorias, Subjetividades y Vida Cotidiana”   VI Congreso de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Antropología - November 23-28  Link


Cristobal Bonelli. Commentator of the documentary: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. Delft. The Netherlands. February 2020 Link


March 26 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Canceled workshops (due to covid-19).


Panel: Post-carbon Infrastructure: Remaking Human-Earth Relations in the Anthropocene (organized by Penny Harvey, Hannah Knox, Andrew Barry). RAI2020 Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future. Royal Anthropological Institute, British Museum, SOAS, RGS. Link


Diálogos de Litio: Encuentro I

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Diálogos de Litio

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Department of Anthropology,

University of Amsterdam

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