How the Internet bridges traditional and contemporary knowledge in the Brazilian Amazon (en)

Large parts of the earth remain cut off from the Internet. In the Amazon region, together with a farmers association in the Brazilian Amazon and grad students, we have implemented a model of internet access, and developed internet governance, that puts communities at the center.

Many communities in the Amazon region of the Brazilian north are without internet or mobile connectivity, especially in areas without road access that can only reached by boat. While this in some ways preserves culture, traditions, ways of life, and keeps the speed of change low, it also puts communities under pressure for change and “development”. On the search for education and work local protectors of the forest see themselves forced to leave their communities behind, and move to larger cities, temporarily or for good. Internet access can be a tool to strengthen local ties and resources and creates access to education. 

Together with an association of organic farmers in a community called Boa Vista do Acara we have partnered with the local school and the federal University in close by Belem to create internet access governed by the community. A signal is delivered by the university over the river and received through a DIY tower to the association. The association and the university are now in the implementation of a way where the internet is distributed to the rest of the community, and controlled by them. 

The project is still in an early phase, and we are developing different structures of governance. Besides the benefits the internet can provide, the community will have the opportunity to improve their production, spread their traditional knowledge, and create a strong bond between the exchange of information and material goods.

The session will leave time for an exchange of ideas.