Research Title : The Lithium Economy: Bolivia's "New" Resource and Socialist Transformation in the Context of Resource Extraction History
Zsofia Szoke, a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology – Ethnology, traveled to southwestern Bolivia during the summer of 2017 to conduct preliminary research on the Bolivian lithium industry. Zsofia will be returning to Bolivia in winter 2018 to examine the ontological underpinnings of lithium extraction and the kinds of vulnerabilities and opportunities created by the nationalization of the lithium industry in Bolivia in the 21st century. She will be traveling to the La Paz, City of Uyuni, and the village of Colchani, and the Salar de Uyuni lithium mining area in Bolivia. Zsofia’s study of the 21st century lithium industry is also a study of struggle against neoliberalism, new forms of “resource nationalism”, the changing role of the state, and the continued importance of mining in the era of intensive globalization. The special case of lithium, embedded in the changing dynamics of a global economy, may also demonstrate the shift towards a new, sustainable energy regime in the current century.