This project examines the role that technology has played as Ecuador’s Covid-19 emergency has unfolded. Given the reality of widespread, historical social inequalities in the country, often expressed in terms of class, ethnic, or place-based identities, this study seeks to understand how differing perceptions about and access to technologies during the pandemic have shaped the experiences of a diverse range of Ecuadorians. For example, how have the country’s inequalities been reinforced and/or challenged in terms of digital divides and differential access to technologies such as smartphones, Internet connectivity, or biomedical technologies such as Covid tests? What roles have local or indigenous technologies or knowledge played in responses to the pandemic, particularly in locations where public health infrastructures may be mistrusted or undeveloped? How do people use technologies in their everyday lives to signal social solidarities or social exclusions towards others, such as through the use of tools like contract-tracing apps or thermometers? Through in-depth interviews with people across all major geographic regions of the country and from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, age, class, ethnicity, and other social identities, this study will be able to analyze the roles and impacts of technology in the context of Ecuador’s pandemic. Through attention to diverse perceptions and levels of access to technologies, the study can help diagnose how pandemic technologies may either reinforce or break down social inequalities, with an eye toward policy recommendations that may improve the uses of technology to bolster greater social solidarity and inclusion.
Michael D. Hill
Professor of Anthropology, Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Associate Professor, Universidad San Francisco de Quito