"The Fuel That Will Power the World: Lithium Industrialization and the Political Economies of the Green Energy Transition”

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Speaker: Mark Goodale (University of Lausanne)

Title: The Fuel That Will Power the World: Lithium Industrialization and the Political Economies of the Green Energy Transition


This presentation analyzes results from ethnographic, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research on the relationship between lithium industrialization, the so-called green energy and mobility transitions, and the emergence of what the project is describing as "green futurism," that is, ways of fixing the productive future based on a combination of algorithmic climate projections and what Cymene Howe has described as "ecologics" (Howe 2019).

The project is structured around a multi-sited study of the "lithium energy assemblage," which is both a theoretical and methodological framework for capturing the ways in which the global obsession with lithium—the main constituent of lithium-ion batteries, which are the technical core of the coming electric vehicle (EV) revolution—is materialized and lived by a wide range of actors and institutions, from lithium salt miners on Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, to green mobility advocates pushing the EU's trillion euro Green Deal, to eco-entrepreneurs like Teague Egan, who are trying to develop more sustainable technologies to extract lithium from the elusive brine that flows beneath the world's great evaporated lakes. The presentation will focus on the technological, socioeconomic, environmental, and ideological dimensions of lithium industrialization as an increasingly urgent locus of investment, policy-making, and productive realignment. 

Bio :

Mark Goodale holds a chair at the University of Lausanne, where he is Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology and Director of the Laboratory of Cultural and Social Anthropology (LACS). For 2023-2024, he will be a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. He currently directs a 4-year (2019-2023) project on lithium industrialization and the politics of potentiality in Bolivia funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and his recent books include Reinventing Human Rights (Stanford 2022) and A Revolution in Fragments (Duke 2019).

  • When ?

Thursday 20 April 2023 from 12:00 pm until 14:00 pm

  • Where ?

ULB - Campus du Solbosch

Institut de Sociologie (building S)

Room Doucy - 12th floor

44 avenue Jeanne - 1050 Bruxelles