Thesis subject

Digital technologies and indigenous ontologies: friends or foes?

Is there any fundamental philosophical – epistemological, ontological, etc. – limitation to the appropriation of digital technologies by indigenous groups?

Practical information

Starting date: to be discussed
Location: flexible, depending on case study
Supervisors: Fabio Gatti, Luis Reyes-Galindo and David Ludwig (from the KTI chair group).


In the last few years, digital technologies have entered the rural space as a potential triple-win solution capable of –at the same time– bring rural people out of poverty, reduce the environmental impact of farming activities, and foster economic growth. Even if on the one side there is the need to critically scrutinize this narrative, recent scholarship about “digital agroecology” has been trying to combine the discourses around “digital agriculture” with an agroecological paradigm that aims at promoting a transition toward a more just agri-food system.

Within this paradigm, Indigenous peoples are considered to be at the forefront of ecosystems conservation, due to farming and natural resources management practices intimately related to and shaped by a specific way of looking at, feeling and relating with Nature, as well as understanding the relationship between human and non-human beings. In some cases, some of these technologies (GPS, satellite data, drones) have been appropriated and used by Indigenous groups for supporting endogenous needs such as, for example, land claims and conservation initiatives.

However, it is unclear to what extent digital technologies are compatible with the Indigenous world: what are the epistemological and ontological features of thinking in terms of "digital data", and are these features compatible with indigenous ways of understanding Nature and constructing knowledge about it? This thesis aims at addressing such research gap.

Type of research activities

This case study will entail qualitative research.

What kind of student are we looking for?

  • MID, MDR, MOA - or a student with an interest in Philosophy of Science and Technology Studies.