M. Cecilia Oliveira, Leandro Siqueira, Digitalization between environmental activism and counter-activism: The case of satellite data on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, Earth System Governance, Volume 12, 2022.
This paper analyzes the uses of digital satellite data on deforestation in the Amazon region, drawing on poststructuralist studies of scientific knowledge practices and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Focusing on changes under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, we argue that populist right-wing rhetoric, policies, and practices towards deforestation in the Amazon must be understood in the context of a broad and sophisticated effort to discredit and dismantle pre-existing knowledge infrastructures and transparency regime. These structures had developed over time with the aim of making deforestation visible and manageable. The dismantling of these structures is part of the effort to establish a competing alethurgy, i.e an assemblage of procedures and rituals that claim to manifest the “truth” about the Amazon. This new alethurgy depends, crucially, on a regime of hypertransparency which enables practices of environmental counter-activism. This new alethurgy promotes an extractivist use of the Amazon in which deforestation is an acceptable price to pay for economic development.
Keywords: Amazon; Satellite; Transparency; Truth regimes; Counter-activism; Alethurgy; Forest digitalization