Cristobal Bonelli

Cristobal Bonelli

Principal Investigator

Academia EDU


As Principal Investigator of WOL, Cristobal is in charge of articulating how transitions towards post-fossil fuel societies, as portrayed by the empirical research in Chile, Norway and China, can inform an anthropology of ecological transitions based upon the critical analysis of current lithium-enhanced decarbonisation strategies. Cristobal is bringing all the empirical cases into close conversation with one another in order to generate transdisciplinary conceptual tools capable of linking and informing the different ways in which strategies for decarbonizing transport are taking, and making, place in each country.

Conceptual experimentation with the divergent knowledges and practices as portrayed by the empirical research will enable to elucidate better approaches to decarbonisation and improves sustainable collaborative practices between social and natural scientists, communities responding to ecological and social transformations, policy makers concerned with decarbonisation, and companies and stakeholders involved in lithium extraction, battery production, and battery recycling processes. The ultimate objective of Cristobal’s research is to develop a comprehensive theoretical framework to document, support, and critically think of emerging collaborations for sustainability capable of powering planetary eco-responsibility.


Besides supervising and creating partial connections between all the empirical cases of the project, Cristobal’s research is crafting conceptual experimentation with natural scientists working on microbiology and chemistry. In so doing, he is combining his long term ethnographic fieldwork on Lithium extraction in the Atacama desert (which complements Weinberg’s research in Chile concerned with lithium ‘off sites’) with analytical insights stemming from geochemical understanding of lithium and microbiological enactments of salt pan andean ecologies.


Cristobal is the Principal Investigator of Worlds of Lithium. He holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, and he has been trained at the intersections of clinical psychology, social anthropology and Science and Technology Studies (STS) in Chile, Italy, UK and the Netherlands. Worlds of Lithium builds on Cristobal’s 10 years research trajectory of focusing on how social and environmental realities transform when co-existing modes of existence and technologies meet. His transdisciplinary scholarship has demonstrated the usefulness of analysing social and material controversies stemming from the collision and mutual interaction of different fields of action.

Moreover, WOL builds upon Cristobal’s previous ‘Invisible Waters’ research supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie EU programme. His ‘Invisible Waters’ Marie Curie project on groundwater practices in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, the driest desert in the world, showed the urgency to ecologically study and rethink what decarbonisation strategies entail.

Previous publications

Bonelli, Cristóbal. 2018. “Spectral Forces, Time and Excess in Southern Chile.” In The World Multiple Everyday Politics of Knowing and Generating Entangled Worlds, edited by Keiichi Omura, Grant Jun Otsuki, Shiho Satsuka, and Atsuro Morita, 123-39. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 9781138314825.

Bonelli, Cristóbal, and Marcelo González Gálvez. 2018. “The Roads of Immanence: Infrastructural Change in Southern Chile.” Mobilities 13 (4): 441-54.

Bonelli, Cristóbal, and Daniela Vicherat Mattar. 2017. “Towards a Sociology of Equivocal Connections.” Sociology 51 (1): 60-75.

Bonelli, Cristóbal. 2015. “To See What Cannot Be Seen: Ontological Differences and Public Health Policies in Southern Chile.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21 (4): 872-91.

Bonelli, Cristóbal. 2012. “Ontological Disorders: Nightmares, Psychotropic Drugs and Evil Spirits in Southern Chile.” Anthropological Theory 12 (4): 407-26.