Media Sovereignty and Digital Activism

Transdisciplinary Service-learning with Indigenous Peoples in the Brazilian Amazon


  • Laura Zanotti Purdue
  • Diego Soares da Silveira University of Uberlândia
  • Harris Kaitlin



This article describes and analyses a collaborative project that combines service-learning and community engagement (SLCE) objectives and goals with anthropological commitments to support an Indigenous filmmaking collective media centre in one Mẽbêngôkre-Kayapó community, Brazil. We adapted curricular designs already in place in SLCE semester-long or summer abroad programs to incorporate decolonizing methodologies and symmetrical anthropological approaches to co-create media centre design recommendations for community partners. We designed the project to provide opportunities in which partners could critically engage with histories of mis/representation of Indigenous Peoples, dialogically learn about diverse cultural worldviews and ontologies, and confront stereotypes that are commonly associated with Indigenous Peoples engagement with technologies. We discuss how this work influenced how initial design recommendations for the media centre and collective. We conclude by reflecting on this projects’ approach to community-based projects and the synergistic outcomes and tensions that can result from co-creating transdisciplinary projects centred on addressing sovereignty and activism. Finally, we suggest that supporting digital activism and media sovereignty relies on fortifying relational networks of collaboration and respect.