Technology for Autonomy and Resistance: The Appropriate Technology Movement in South America

Working Paper
  • Published 20/10/15
  • ISBN: 978 1 78118 277 2

STEPS Centre Working Paper 87

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Between the 1970s and 1980s appropriate technology (AT) become a worldwide grassroots innovation movement that sought to redefine technology as a tool for development. In South America, AT emerged in a context of political upheaval between the challenge of political repression and the influence of new forms of activism and participation. The AT movement was able to develop its own local networks, technologies and to re-frame AT ideas in a more suitable way for the needs of the region. At the same time, the AT movement also struggled with scarce funding, lack of interest from scientific institutions and the increasing waning of AT ideas from the international arena. Despite these difficulties the AT movement was able to create an idiosyncratic set of mobilization resources that outlasted the movement itself and later become influential for other grassroots innovation movements in the region, like agroecology and the Social Technology Movement in Brazil.
In this paper we analyse the stories of the AT movement in South America by focusing on their frames, spaces and the pathways of alternative development this movement attempted to build.

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