The research unit of the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Catania focuses on two industrial zones in Sicily, that both host petrochemical plants installed in the second half of the twentieth century: the coastal area of Siracusa and the city of Gela. The unit follows a path of collaborative research, enriched by integrating different knowledge domains: anthropology, economic geography, eco-linguistics and political economy. Our sub-projects investigate the variegated effects of de-industrialization and re-industrialization on the lives of people and places engaged in the current structural crisis of petrochemical production, and follow the everyday pressures of global restructuring economic processes on the territories. Within an interpretative framework that looks at these sites as “friction zones”, our focal aim is to deeply understand and describe current efforts of material and symbolic reconfiguration of local economies (still compromised by the intensive exploitation of land). We also intend to analyze how the link between nature and society takes shape on the ground, the conflicts and juridical and social controversies emerging at local level, the ways ideas of “environmental crisis” and “disaster” impose on the public, and – last but not least – the chrono-political devices shaping imageries of the future and the past in the context of late industrialism, in terms of energy sustainability and (natural and cultural) heritagization.