Speaker: Mark Goodale — University of Lausanne
Dates: 20 April 2023 - 12.00-14.00
Venue: Brussels, Université libre de Bruxelles - BE
Address: Institut de Sociologie (building S) - Room Doucy - 12th floor - 44 avenue Jeanne - 1050 Brussels Belgium


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.


Mark Goodale holds a chair at the University of Lausanne, where he is Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology and former Director of the Laboratory of Cultural and Social Anthropology (LACS). Before moving to Switzerland in 2014, he held teaching positions at George Mason University, where he was Professor of Conflict Analysis and Anthropology, and Emory University, where he served as the first Marjorie Shostak Distinguished Lecturer in Anthropology. He currently directs a four-year research project(2019-2023) on lithium industrialization, energy materialities, and green energy politics, with a focus on Bolivia, financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation. He is the founding Series Editor of Stanford Studies in Human Rights, a leading collection in the field that has published (to-date) 26 volumes, four of which have won major book prizes.

He is the recipient of the 2017 International Geneva Award and his writings have appeared in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals, including Current Anthropology, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Law and Society Review, and Law and Social Inquiry, among others. Apart from his academic work, his essays have been published in more general outlets, including Boston Review and The Paris Review. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of fifteen books, including, most recently, A Revolution in Fragments: Traversing Scales of Justice, Ideology, and Practice in Bolivia (Duke University Press 2019), The Oxford Handbook of Law and Anthropology (Oxford University Press 2021), and Reinventing Human Rights (Stanford University Press 2022).