Dr Massimiliano Mollona MSc PhD

Staff details

Position Visiting Research Fellow
Department Anthropology
Email m.mollona (@gold.ac.uk)
Dr Massimiliano Mollona MSc PhD

I am interested in the relationships between art and political economy. I structure my fieldworks as performative research interventions, combining anthropology, visual art and critical pedagogy reflecting on the power relations entangled in the ethnographic encounter. I look on the role of art institutions and cultural organizations in relation to the bio-politics and political economy of late capitalism.

In my approach to research, theory and practice intertwines. My practice being situated at the intersection of pedagogy, art and activism which I explore from within projects I co-initiated like the Institute of Radical Imagination and the Laboratory of Urban Commons, which aim at co-producing research, knowledge, artistic and political research-interventions to implement post-capitalist forms of life based on the idea that art is political prefiguration and political prefiguration is art.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Social Anthropology, London School of Economics 2003
  • MSc (Master of Science) in Social Anthropology, London School of Economics 1998
  • Laurea in Business Economics with First Class Honours in Organisational Behaviour. Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Milan 1996
  • Visiting Semester in Finance, Harvard University 1992

Teaching and Supervision

Research interests

For twenty years I have been conducting anthropological research on contemporary capitalism, especially on industrialisation\de-industrialisation, work, and class inequality.My fieldworks are critical engagements with narratives of development, modernity and industrialisation both in the global South and in the global North.

During my first long-term fieldwork In Sheffield, I lived for one year in a dilapidated neighbourhood and worked in two local steel plants, looking at how the British working class coped with deindustrialization in the post-Thatcher/New Labour era.

In 2008 I began a decade-long research project in Volta Redonda, a Brazilian steel-town, with a year-long fieldwork living in a favela researching in the biggest steel complex in Latin America. The research unpacks three central political and economic themes of our times: the ongoing underdevelopment of the Global South, the feminisation and racialisation of labour, and the global collapse of left-wing populism and the rise of illiberalism.

I structure my fieldwork as conversations between theory and art practices. In Sheffield, I wrote and directed Steel Lives (1999) a film about the work and lives of some steelworker, which I edited collectively and screened in various local and international political venues. My film Steel Town (2013), in collaboration with artist Daria Martin and a Brazilian director from Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, interrogates issues of class and race in contemporary Brazilian through the language of melodrama and telenovelas, and in the context of the urban favela where he conducted fieldwork.

My last project ‘Oiler’ (2016) made with Anne-Marthe Dyvi, documents the construction of an oil platform on an island in the west coast of Norway. The film follows the worsening of labour relations in the context of the global collapse of the prices of crude oil and its impact on the so-called Norwegian social democratic model.



Mollona, Massimiliano. 2021. Art/Commons: Anthropology Beyond Capitalism. London: Zed. ISBN 9781786996992

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2019. Brazilian Steel Town: Machines, Land, Money and Commoning in the Making of the Working Class. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781789204339

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2009. Industrial Work and Life: An Anthropological Reader. london: berg. ISBN 978-1847880741

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2009. Made in Sheffield. An Ethnography of Industrial Work and Politics. oxford: Berghahn. ISBN 978-1-84545-551-4

Edited Book

Kalb, Don and Mollona, Massimiliano, eds. 2018. Worldwide Mobilisations: Class Struggles and Urban Commoning. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781785339066

Book Section

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2020. Working-class cinema in the age of digital capitalism. In: Leo Panitch and Greg Albo, eds. Beyond Digital Capitalism: New Ways of Living. London: Merlin Press, pp. 153-174. ISBN 9781583678831

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2019. Labor and Land Struggles in a Brazilian Steel Town: The Reorganization of Capital under Neo-Extractivism. In: Jan Breman; Kevan Harriss; Ching Kwan Lee and Marcel van der Linden, eds. The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century: A Global View. Oakland, California: University of California Press, pp. 134-151. ISBN 9780520302402

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2015. Anthropology and class. A view from a Brazilian barrio (9. Working-class politics in a Brazilian steel town). In: James Carrier and Don Kalb, eds. Anthropologies of Class: Power, Practice, and Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107087415

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2013. Factory Labour or the end of Labour? Anthropological reflections on labour value. In: Maurizio Atzeni, ed. Workers and Labour in a Globalised Capitalism: Contemporary Themes and Theoretical Issues’. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230303171


Mollona, Massimiliano. 2018. ARTCOMMONS. The Legacy of Nam June Paik for the Museum of the Commons. NJP Reader(8), pp. 165-180. ISSN 2092-9315

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2018. History and class: a response to Palmer. Dialectical Anthropology, 42(4), pp. 471-475. ISSN 0304-4092

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2014. ‘Seen the invisible: Maya Deren’s experiments in cinematic trance’. October, 149(Summer), pp. 159-180. ISSN 0162-2870

Mollona, Massimiliano and Santana, Marco Aurélio. 2013. ‘Trabalho e ação coletiva: memória, espaço e identidades sociais na cidade do aço’. Horizontes Antropologicos, 19(39), pp. 125-148. ISSN 0104-7183

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2013. Observation, performance and revolution: exploring “the political” in visual art and anthropology. Visual Anthropology, 26(1), pp. 34-50. ISSN 0894-9468

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2009. Community Unionism, Business Unionism: Two Strategies, the Same Phoenix. American Ethnologist, 36(4), pp. 651-666. ISSN 0094-0496

Ahrens, Thomas and Mollona, Massimiliano. 2007. Organisational control as cultural practice: a shop floor ethnography of a Sheffield steel mill. Accounting Organizations and Society, 32(4-5), pp. 305-331. ISSN 03613682

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2005. Factory, family and neighbourhood. The political economy of informal labour in Sheffield. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 11(3), pp. 527-548. ISSN 13590987

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2005. Gifts of Labour: Steel Production and Technological Imagination in an Area of Urban Deprivation, Sheffield, UK. Critique of Anthropology, 25(2), pp. 177-198. ISSN 0308275X


Mollona, Massimiliano and Dyvi, Anne Marthe. 2015. oilers.

Mollona, Massimiliano; Wong, Theresa and Martin, Daria. 2013. The Unlearning.

Mollona, Massimiliano and Martin, Daria. 2013. SteelTown.

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2005. Steel Lives.


Mollona, Massimiliano. 2017 to present The Institute of Radical Imagination.


Mollona, Massimiliano. 2017. Athens Biennale Artistic director and Programme Director. In: "Athens Biennale", Athens, Greece, 2015-2017.

Mollona, Massimiliano. 2016. The End of Oil, Bergen Assembly. In: "The End of Oil", Bergen, Norway, 2 September - 1 October 2016.

Mollona, Massimiliano; Evans, Chris and Sinister, Dexter. 2013. The Morning Star Re-branded. In: "The Morning Star Re-branded", The Showroom Gallery, London, United Kingdom, September 2013.

Mollona, Massimiliano and Basbaum, Ricardo. 2013. Re-projecting London.. In: "Re-projecting London", The Showroom Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

Further profile content

Professional projects

Current projects include:
1) DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). Collective work on blockchain technology Collaboration with Samson Young for the Para Site Gallery (Hong Kong): with sound artist Samson Young I am working on a cryptocurrency prototype aimed at managing complex compositional arrangements.
2) Amazon Critical Observatory. Collaboration with Max Haiven, Cassie Thornton and Brett Wallace.
3) Building an Indigenous Art Residency. Collaboration with Elizabeth Povinelli: with Elizabeth Povinelli and the Karrabing collective I am developing an indigenous residency in Belyuen (Australia) to promote indigenous rights to local sacred sites.

In 2015-2017 I was Artistic and Programme Director of the Athens Biennale: "How can art and cultural institutions contribute to this moment of radical change? How can they rethink their traditional institutional structures and build grassroots, discursive, dispersed and processual forms of cultural production? Building on its tradition of independent, cross-disciplinary and discursive cultural institution, under Mollona's directorship, the Athens Biennale run over two years through an ongoing programme of residencies, talks and laboratories in key neighborhoods of Athens. Within the framework of “OMONOIA” the Biennale hosted various cultural and activist groups that deal with issues of coproduction, self-organisation and urban commoning and also function as an institutional space where the realm of the political is reframed through the lenses of art."

In 2016 I co-founded The Institute of Radical Imagination, a group of curators, activists, scholars and cultural producers with a shared interest in co-producing research, knowledge, artistic and political research-interventions aimed at implementing post-capitalist forms of life

In 2016 for the Bergen Assembly, together with the Collective Freethought I co-curated "The End of Oil" which explores possible scenarios associated with the decline of the oil-based economy in Norway. With the prosperity of the oil-boom years likely coming to an end and society finding itself on the brink of an infrastructural change, these scenarios relate to questions about our relationship with nature in a wider sense."

As film maker I realised "oilers" together with Anne Marthe Dyvi in 2015; "The Unlearning" in 2013 together with Theresa Wong and Daria Martin; SteelTown in 2013 together with Daria Martin; "Steel Lives" in 2005

Media engagements

2015: Athens Biennale 2015-17
Frieze Magazine Review

2015: An Artless Biennial

2015: Search and Destroy

Conferences and talks

2020: Experiences of Oil
Stavanger Art Museum

2020: Abolitionism: towards alternative modes of study - Panel Mao Mollona, Eli Meyerhoff; Max Haiven, Abigail Boggs, Nick Mitchell, Zach Schwartz-Weinste
Institute of Radical Imagination - The School of Mutation - Radical Pedagogy

2020: Popular education and knowledge in commons - with Mao Mollona, Rebecca Tarlau, Lea Ana Blaustein, Zeynep Tul Sualp, Alessandro Mariano
Institute of Radical Imagination - The School of Mutation - Radical Pedagogy

2020: Plunder of the commons: A manifesto for sharing public wealth. With Guy Standing
Goldsmiths College, London

2020: International symposium on Universal Basic Income
Federal Fluminense University, Rio de Janeiro

2020: Public symposium on extractivism Brazilian Steeltown. Machines, Land, Money and Commoning in the Making of the Working Class
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

2019: The “end of History” comes at the end of the Radical Imagination. A polyphonic reflection on Action-Research
Intergrated 2019, St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp

2019: Open school for militant Research
Institute of Radical Imagination & Laboratory for the Urban Commons (LUC), Athens

2019: Chto Delat in conversation
Goldsmiths College, London

2019: Urban activism and new municipalism Workshop with Massimo de Angelis
Goldsmiths College, London

2019: CLIMAVORE. Seasonal Drift
SALT, Istambul

2018: Other Futures. Anthropology, Energy and Life After Capitalism
Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation, Bergen

2018: The legacy of Nam June Paik for the museum of the commons
Nam June Paik Art Centre in Yongin, South Korea

2018: Bolsonaro. Dictatorship Redux?
Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

2018: Of slavery and Capitalism
London School of Economics

Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm

2017: Journées Jean Rouch
Museo delle Belle Arti, Palermo, Italy

2016: Symposium: "Art at the borders: Spacial Politics and Post-colonial Strategies in the Middle-East"
Onassis Cultural Center, Athens

2016: Closed workshop on Inequality with Ching Kwan Lee and Ian Breman
University of California, Los Angeles

2016: Screening of Steel Lives and Steel-Town and Q&A with artist Daria Martin and Professor Andrea Phillips
Tate Britain, London

2015: Who is a “People?” Constructions of the “We” - Panel discussion with a.o. Massimiliano Mollona, Jan Breman
Former West, BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, Nederland

2014: The Commons as the Survival of the ”Public” - Panel discussion with Mark Fisher, Massimiliano Mollona, Andrea Phillips
BAK, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, Nederland

Grants and awards

2020: Global Fellow
BAK, Utrecht

2020: Invited Faculty
Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm

2018: Mentorship
Art Spaces as a Space for Politics. Council, Paris

2017: Fellowship
Solidarity Academies. Council, Paris

2017: Grant
4-years Institute of Radical Imagination. Foundation for the Arts Initiative (FfAI)

2016: Grant
Laboratory for the Urban Commons. Foundation for the Arts Initiative

2003: International Festival of Ethnographic Films
Commendation to Steel life. Royal Anthropological Institute, Durham

2002: Malinowski Award
Society for Applied Anthropology, Oklahoma City

2001: Wiley-Blackwell Student Film Prize
Royal Anthropological Institute Radcliffe-Brown and Firth Award

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