Cristóbal Bonelli PhD

Senior Researcher (Marie Curie)


I am a senior researcher trained at the intersections of science and technology studies, social anthropology and clinical psychology. I hold a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, and my research   explores socio-natural entanglements and clashes between scientific and indigenous worlds and practices. Thanks to a Marie Curie Individual Global Fellowship, I have joined the Water Governance group at IHE Delft to study interactions between people and groundwater in one of the driest places on earth: the Atacama desert of Northern Chile. My project, called ‘Invisible Waters’ , proposes improving the understanding the interactions between people and aquifers with the objective of proposing creative ways to improve the longer term sustainability and equity of groundwater use and extraction.

Although billions of people rely for their everyday existence on aquifers, the invisibility of these waters poses formidable challenges for those who rely on them: locating, measuring and controlling aquifers is complex and precarious. Building on trans-disciplinary studies that consider water as the contested nexus of social and political affairs, my project explores groundwater as both mediating and generating diverse ‘groundwater practices’: as an invisible resource, groundwater requires visualization; as an underground supply, it calls for innovative extractive techniques; as a finite good, groundwater needs to be regulated and controlled; and as a practical everyday resource, it sustains irrigation, sanitation, and human consumption. Through ethnographic fieldwork in Atacama Desert of Northern Chile, the project proposes studying everyday groundwater practices with a focus on the effects that different ways of visualization, extraction, use and regulation have on socio-economic and eco-political inequalities.


Refereed articles in Peer Review Journals:

• Bonelli, C. and Gonzalez, M. 2017. The roads of immanence: infrastructural change in Southern Chile. Mobilities.

• Bonelli, C. and Vicherat-Mattar D. 2017.  Towards a Sociology of Equivocal Connections, Journal of the British Sociological Association, Sociology. Special Issue: Global Futures and Epistemologies of the South: New Challenges for Sociology. Edited by: G. Bhambra; B. de Sousa Santos. Vol. 51(1) 60 –75

• Bonelli, C. Bueno de Mesquita, M., Roca, D. 2016. The many natures of water in Latin-American neo-extractivist conflicts. Special Issue Water and Neo-extrativism in Latin America. Alternautas. Vol 3, 2. 81-92

• Bonelli, C. 2016. Words of Stone, prophetic materials and the politics of where. Antipoda, Vol 26. 19-43

• Bonelli, C.  2016. Visiones Alter-Nativas: Reflexiones sobre multiplicidad ontologica y alteridad en el sur de Chile. Revista de Antropologia Chilena. Volumen especial Etnografias del Control. Edited by Marcelo Gonzalez and Jose Isla. Vol 33. 71-85

•  Bonelli, C. 2016. ¿Que Hace un Camino? Alteraciones infraestructurales en el Sur de Chile. Special issue ‘Ontologies, Cosmopolitics and Systems of Knowledge in South America’, Edited by Schavelzon, S. Revista de Antropologia, Brasil. Vol. 59 (3) 18-48

• Bonelli, C.  2015. Eating one’s worlds: On foods, metabolic writing and ethnographic humor. Subjectivity. 8 (3), 181–200.

• Bonelli, C. 2015. To see what cannot be seen: Ontological differences and public health policies in Southern Chile. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 21, (4). 872-891.

• Bonelli, C. 2014. What Pehuenche blood does: hemic feasting, intersubjective participation, and witchcraft in Southern Chile. HAU : Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4(1), 105-127.

• Bonelli, C. 2012. Ontological disorders: Nightmares, psychotropic drugs and evil spirits in southern Chile. Anthropological Theory. 12 (4). 

Edited Books:

• 2017 Co-editor of A contra-corriente: Agua y conflicto en Latinoamerica. Editorial   AbyaYala, Quito. Serie Agua y Sociedad, Justicia Hidrica n. 25

In preparation:

• Co-edited with Antonia Walford. Environmental Alterities. Mattering Press.

Book chapters:

    • Bonelli, C. Forthcoming. Spectral forces, time and excess in Southern Chile. Chapter within the book ‘The World Multiple: Everyday Politics of Knowing and Generating Entangled Worlds’. Routledge

    • Bonelli, C. 2017.  Aguas Equivocas en el Sur de Chile. In A contra-corriente: agua y conflicto en Latinomamerica. Editorial AbyaYala, Quito. Serie Agua y Sociedad, Justicia Hidrica n. 25. Edited by Cristobal Bonelli and Gisselle Vila

    • Bonelli, C. 2014. Trastornos  Ontologicos: pesadillas, farmacos psicotropicos y espiritus malignos en el Sur de Chile, in Tecnologias en el margen: relaciones humano-materiales en America Latina. (eds.) P. Di Giminiani, S. Gonzalez, M. Murray and H. Risor.            Mexico D.F.:  Bonilla Artigas Editores.

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