The Agrarian Question Goes Digital; Data Mining and Commons in Oaxaca, Mexico

Authors: Joseph Bryan*, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Latin America, Development
Keywords: Mexico, Indigenous Peoples, Agrarian Change, Data Mining
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Johnson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

How does the so-called “information economy” take hold in rural areas? Does it follow familiar trajectories of agrarian capitalism? Is it part of a massive reconstruction of the rural writ large? With what effects? This paper engages these questions through consideration of a range of ways in which georeferenced data is collected and produced in rural parts of Oaxaca. Much of this data is collected in exchange for access to credit, agricultural subsidies, and cash transfer programs. Some of these techniques bear a striking degree of similarity with other forms of capitalism, requiring labor to produce knowledge as a commodity. Others confound that model and its theory of value, turning instead to the active exchange of georeferenced data for housing and food. Still other approaches develop more opportunistically, extracting data from community efforts to build their own cell phone networks to the management of corn varieties. Through profiling different kinds forms of data collection, this paper develops an analytical framework to understanding data collection efforts in relation to on-going, contested efforts to restructure political authority and rural economy in Oaxaca.

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