Drones for justice: inclusive technology and river-related action research along the Kapuas
- Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Bonn University, Bonn, 53113, Germany
Abstract. This article discusses the potential of using drones for community-based counter-mapping. Drawing on action research conducted along the Kapuas River in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, we describe how drones were used for political interventions against land grabs by palm oil and mining companies. We share our experience of how to use drones to generate high-resolution aerial photographs that can be stitched together to create GPS-referenced maps that can support local communities' land rights. We argue that do-it-yourself drones can reduce the costs of and expertise hitherto associated with counter-mapping. While this creates the potential for a more inclusive technology, the question of who controls the technology and to what end is a political one. We conclude by comparing two interventions and discuss why the drone technology could be appropriated by local activists in one case but not in the other.