The recruited postdoctoral researcher will contribute to the ERC-funded project “SYNTHLIVES” (CF 3537), led by Prof. Filipe Calvão. Overall, the postdoctoral researcher will contribute to research on automated mining technologies; digitalization efforts in mining contexts; and lab-grown mineral production and its intersection with sustainable development.


About the project

“Synthetic Lives: The Futures of Mining” (SYNTHLIVES) investigates the emergent role of synthetic laboratories, automated operations, and digital technologies in natural resources economies. Empirically, the project examines i) new assemblages of man-made synthetic substances; ii) natural resource extraction divested of human labor; and iii) predictive, monitoring, and tracking projects governed by algorithms and other digital processes. The project contributes to these strands of research through three case studies: synthetic laboratories, automated mines, and digital and data-driven mining activities. Interlacing these three axes, Synthetic Lives examines the following two main research questions: First, if these transformations redefine our understanding of the natural world, human mediation, and human intermediaries, what is the role of humans and non-human nature in increasingly synthetic, automated, and digital mining economies? Second, what are the political, epistemological, ecological, and economic consequences of a future that promises to be increasingly enmeshed in synthetic properties, autonomous machines, and digital technologies?


This project is led by the Principal Investigator (PI), Filipe Calvão, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) at the Graduate Institute and is hosted at the Centre for International Environmental Studies (CIES). The candidate will be fully integrated in the life of the Department of ANSO and affiliated with the CIES.



The project will investigate new technologies of mining and extraction drawing mainly on ethnographic methods including participant observation and interviews, as well as archival research and document analysis. The selected candidate will contribute to one or more of the following research foci: i) automated mining technologies; ii) digitalization efforts in the production of minerals, ranging from gemstones to so-called transition minerals; iii) lab-grown mineral production and its intersection with sustainable development.

For further information:

Deadline for applications: 06/9/2021


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