Amazonian Geeks and Social Activism: An Ethnographic Study

On: September 27, 2010
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About ellen sluis
I am currently enrolled in the MA New Media. After graduating in Communication and Information Sciences from the Utrecht University I worked during one year in Brazil (São Paulo) as a web designer and, after that, at a NGO, developing the website and PR.


A couple of months ago I went to Brazil to conduct my MA reseach in the North of Brazil. This ethnographic study offers insight in the usage and appropriation of ICTs and the several projects and initiatives aiming at digital inclusion in this relatively isolated region.

A grassroots initiative called Projeto Puraqué is one of the main actors at the digital inclusion stage and has developed a didactic methodology through which they tend to go beyond digital inclusion and instead use ICTs as a tool for social inclusion. One of the basic principles in their methodology is to recycle and reuse electronic waste and hardware that is considered obsolete and to recreate new (open source) technologies. Thus, they increase meta-knowledge of technology. Also, they stimulate collaboration, solidarity and critical thinking, aiming at autonomy and sustainable development. In order to sustain they articulate to other, mostly public and top-down projects and apply their methodology within these existing projects.

A thorough analysis of their activities allows us to understand what this rather profound knowledge of (alternative) ICTs means for the user and how particularly those that are “digitally included” benefit from this process.

For those  interested in ICT4D, digital inclusion, activism and the appropriatiation of open source technologies for social change, find the full pdf of my MA thesis Amazonian Geeks and Social Activism: An ethnographic study on the appropriation of ICTs in the Brazilian Amazon here:


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