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Subversion, Conversion, DevelopmentCross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design$
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James Leach and Lee Wilson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027168

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027168.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Making the Invisible Visible

Making the Invisible Visible

Designing Technology for Nonliterate Hunter-Gatherers

(p.127) 7 Making the Invisible Visible
Subversion, Conversion, Development

Jerome Lewis

The MIT Press

Hunter-gatherer land-use in the Congo Basin leaves few traces. One consequence is that their presence is invisible on maps and ignored in land-use planning decisions over the areas they inhabit. Governments do not recognise their rights to land, conservationists exclude them from rich forest areas, logging roads open up remaining areas to extractive outsiders, and global warming changes rainfall patterns and the seasonal events that normally guide people to wild foods. A forestry company in Congo-Brazzaville seeking a ‘green’ label for its timber sought anthropological advice on how to respect the rights of forest people. This chapter describes the challenges and participatory design process that developed in creating icon-driven software on converted military palmpilots. Maps produced using this technology have become a new way for non-literate communities to be heard by powerful outsiders. A community radio station broadcasting uniquely in local languages will facilitate forest people to develop their own understanding of the situations facing them, share insights, observations and analyses in order to better secure their long-term interests. The creative interaction of non-literate users and ICT is spawning new developments, from new software builds to monitor illegal logging or wildlife, to geographic information systems for non-literate users.

Keywords:   Congo, Hunter gatherers, Participatory Design, Maps, GPS, Software, Forest Resources, Logging, Invisibility

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