Bombarding with data? Drones, neo-extractivism and environmental justice in the Amazon

Authors: Murat Arsel*, Institute of Social Studies
Topics: Environment, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America
Keywords: drones, oil, Ecuador, Amazon, indigenous peoples
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Embassy Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With falling prices and improving technology, drones have gone mainstream. Their use is no longer limited to barely acknowledged military missions. In addition to becoming yet another fashionable gadget for affluent consumers, they have found a variety of uses around the world for progressive causes. This presentation focuses on one such example, the deployment of drones (together with other 'frugal but advanced' hardware and software) to enhance community-based environmental monitoring of the impacts of extractive industries in the Amazon. By using data from an ongoing international collaboration between academics, international NGOs, intergovernmental actors and national and transnational indigenous organizations that help communities detect, map and publicize the impact of extractive processes in their territories, this paper will answer two related questions: What types of epistemological assumptions and implications accompany the coupling of 'advanced technologies' with indigenous knowledge? To what extent can such combinations help dismantle existing structural inequalities between affected communities on the one side and corporations and the state on the other?

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