Mark Goodale: “The Food That Will Feed the World: Lithium Industrialization and the Political Economies of the Green Energy Transition”
The Departmental Seminar Series, in cooperation with NMBU, features Mark Goodale, Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology and Director of the Laboratory of Cultural and Social Anthropology (LACS) at the University of Lausanne.
This seminar will be a hybrid event where the presenter will be presenting in person and the talk will be streamed via zoom. Those who want to attend physically are more than welcome to join us in the meeting room on the ground floor at Gullhaug torg 1.
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 Director of the Laboratory of Cultural and Social Anthropology (LACS). His ongoing four-year research project (2019-2023) on lithium industrialization and resource politics, with a focus on Bolivia, is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. His most recent books include Reinventing Human Rights (Stanford 2022) and A Revolution in Fragments (Duke 2019).