Damir Galaz-Mandakovic

Damir Galaz-Mandakovic

Affiliated member

Academia EDU


Damir Galaz-Mandakovic studies the consequences of mining capitalism on the coast of the Atacama desert, in particular, in the city of Tocopilla. His research analyses the impacts triggered by the generation of electricity for large-scale mining and how the latter transforms human health as well as urban, environmental, and anthropological landscapes. His work builds upon the anthropological and historical analysis of oil combustion, coal and petcoke used during the 20th and 21st centuries. He has also studied the chemical regimes of life pushed forward by extractivist infrastructures linked to the mining of copper (Chuquicamata), saltpeter (El Toco canton), sulfur and borax (Ollagüe) and manganese (Corral Quemado, Coquimbo).


His contribution to Worlds of Lithium consists in visualizing and analyzing the contradictions and omissions of the so-called "energy transition" as they take shape in the Atacama coast, where the increased demand of copper required for the manufacturing of "green techno-energies" is currently deepening the sacrificial condition of Tocopilla.

His research reveals how more copper means the generation of more electrical energy, which is obtained through the combustion of coal in the thermoelectric ports of Tocopilla and Mejillones (Antofagasta Region). Thus, situated from Tocopilla, the "energy transition" entails processes of 'recarbonization' and increase in PM10 emissions, as well as the emissions of the main precursors of secondary particulate matter, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

Another stream of his research analyzes the discourses and subjectivities produced by business-profit ideologies that subsume the population, State agents and the media, by disseminating propaganda that obscure the side effects linked to the generation of electrical energy and the processes of mining capitalism.


Damir Galaz-Mandakovic Fernández (Tocopilla, 1983) is Professor of History and Geography by the University of Tarapacá (Chile), Master in Social Sciences by the University of Antofagasta (Chile), Master and Doctor in Anthropology by the Catholic University of Northern Chile, and PhD in History from Université Rennes 2 (France).

He is associate researcher at the University of Tarapacá and at the Center for Historical Studies of the Bernardo O'Higgins University, as well as Honorary Researcher at the Cultural Foundation of the Central Bank of Bolivia. Currently, he is co-investigator in four FONDECYT-ANID projects, Chile.

Previous publications

Galaz-Mandakovic, D.; Rivera, F. (2023). The Industrial Heritage of Two Sacrifice Zones and the Geopolitics of Memory in Northern Chile. The Cases of Gatico and Ollagüe. International Journal of Heritage Studies. Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2023.2181379

Galaz-Mandakovic, D.; Rivera, F. (2022). Copper sulfide mining at Chuquicamata and the spread of arsenic in drinking water in Chile, 1952–1971: A derivation of extractivism. The Extractive Industries and Society. Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2022.101135

Galaz-Mandakovic, D., Tapia, V.; Rivera, F. (2022). New Historical Archives of Extractivism in the Atacama Desert: Contamination and Mortality During the Guggenheim Period in Chuquicamata, Chile, 1915-1923. The Extractive Industries and Society. Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214790X22001812?via%3Dihub

Galaz-Mandakovic, D. (2021). La necroeconomía de la generación de electricidad para la minería. El impacto comunitario del uso del petcoke en Tocopilla (Chile, 2000-2015). Revista CUHSO. Link: https://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2452-610X2021000200212&lng=es&nrm=iso&tlng=es

Galaz-Mandakovic, D. (2018). Desechos, aluviones y racismo de Estado. El caso de la población Pacífico Norte de Tocopilla (Chile) 2009-2015. Rumbos TS. Link: http://revistafacso.ucentral.cl/index.php/rumbos/article/view/20