Encounters Against the Supply Chain? Or what a Thesis might come to be about
In this talk he will talk about lithium, or how he came to understand how a chemical element matters in Bolivia and beyond. Lithium is a highly significant mineral; some even call it “critical” because they need a lot of it to supply the battery industries that will power the energy transition beyond fossil fuels. Lithium’s significance, however, varies across places and fields of practice, producing frictions around an apparently common element. During his PhD research he got caught up in some of these frictions, encounters that ended up shaping his thesis more than he could have expected. His research thus became less about lithium as such than about the possibilities and potentials of knowing it. What might be the significance of anthropology in such terms?
About the Speaker
Jonas Köppel recently graduated in Anthropology and Sociology from the Geneva Graduate Institute. His dissertation project focused on the technopolitical issues surrounding lithium extraction and transformation in Bolivia, where he conducted extensive fieldwork with diverse people who got involved with the critical matter, in particular scientists and engineers.
His research is an enquiry into lithium’s significance beyond, yet intimately tied to, places of extraction. More broadly, Jonas is interested in anthropology’s potential to comprehend and portray the world across scales and fields of practice. In particular, he wonders what that potential might contribute to addressing macro problems such as climate disaster.