The application of geomatic technologies in an indigenous context : Amazonian Indians and indigenous land rights
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Indigenous people have employed Western analogue techniques (maps, charts, etc) to support their land rights ever since their traditional territories came under threat. Although indigenous groups utilise such tools there is still a significant divide between the epistemological conception of these analogue techniques and the ontology of the indigenous people. This research looks at one of the latest technologies to be utilised by indigenous peoples, that of geomatics technologies. It examines their design and application using the analytical techniques of anthropology juxtaposed with the geographical methodologies. Using both the literature and three case studies drawing from fieldwork conducted in the Peruvian Amazonian I argue that although previous analogue techniques carried a certain epistemological baggage, they were effectively neutral and did not impact of the ontology of the indigenous peoples. Geomatics technologies are not neutral and carry more than just baggage, so they are not so simply appropriated. Indigenous conceptions of landscape are not compatible with the current design of geomatics technologies but indigenous federations are increasingly employing them. The indigenous federation along with non-governmental organisations adopt the geomatics technologies because of their perceived authority in land rights and their applications in land management and saving cultural heritage. The State recognises this authority because the design and output of geomatics conforms to its legal system. However, indigenous peoples have a different agenda and conception of land rights. Their agenda is based on revitalising their heritage and land rights derived through self-determination. This research reveals such issues of power, politics and authenticity behind its application and the ontological and epistemological philosophy of its design.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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