Picture1This research project sought to explore the links between digital media, PGIS and social movement organisations in Tolima, Colombia. The primary aim of the research was to examine how knowledge is created and disseminated through digital media and GIS in the region, and whether there exists the infrastructure to allow for this. The second strand was to ascertain if this has had a significant impact on the way grassroots movements work and produce collective actions. The third element is a hypothesis about how digital media and PGIS could play a larger role in activist activities, particularly in reference to the extractive industries.
Three theoretical strands have been brought together to provide a basis for this research, namely (a) the politics of knowledge, (b) spatial management and inclusion, and (c) digital media and political engagement.
Quantitative data relating to digital media and mobile internet use was collated alongside qualitative data relating to the likelihood of using digital media in activist campaigns, with particular attention being given to grassroots movements working against extractive industries in the Tolima region of Colombia. Through interviews, surveys and GIS analysis it has been possible to build a picture of online activism and the role of PPGIS within protest movement in the region of Tolima, Colombia.
Results show a gap between the desires of social movements to use digital media and the skills and finances required to implement programs that utilise it. Maps and GIS are generally reserved for legal cases rather than for informing the lay person. However, it became apparent that the combination of digital/social media and PPGIS could play a significant role in supporting the work of grassroots movements.