On Friday 18th March, Professor Mark Goodale is visiting from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and is presenting a talk on his paper; Productive Potentialities Within—and Beyond—Lithiumphilia. We would like to extend an invitation for the event to CAS members before we open it up to a wider audience, as we think it may be of particular interest to you. If you can circulate the below details with your centre, that would be much appreciated.
Friday, 18th March 2022, 2pm, Arts Lecture Theatre, Arts Building
This paper is structured by two parts. It begins by reflecting critically and more generally about the ways in which the anthropology of energy, climate change, and mobility must resist a tendency to conceive of research questions, frame research projects, and develop scholarly interventions that mirror the underlying urgencies that define energy and climate processes. As an illustration of this tendency, the paper describes a particular underlying urgency described as “lithiumphilia,” an obsession with lithium as both resource and panacea given that lithium forms the productive core of a set of interconnected technologies that include “battery grade” lithium carbonate, cathodic material, lithium-ion batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs).
The paper’s second part describes what happens when lithiumphilia is resisted as an ethnographic imperative. Based on ongoing research conducted largely in Bolivia, which contains by far the world’s largest known lithium reserves, the paper examines the ways in which the country’s lithium industrialization project must be understood differently when viewed beyond the global allure of lithium extraction and its promise of a so-called green energy transition. Approached ethnographically beyond the epistemological tunnel vision of lithiumphilia, the actually existing productive relations around lithium in Bolivia look quite different. Instead of a centralizing project that properly reflects its wider value, the lithium industrialization process in Bolivia takes the shape of simply one among several “productive potentialities,” that is, micro political economies that are unfolding according to distinct—and incompatible—productive and ideological logics.
We hope you can join us!