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We Were There

Rethinking Truth with Midiativistas in Rio de Janeiro

Raffaella Fryer-Moreira


The popular uprising in Brazil between 2013 and 2014 led to the emergence of midiativistas, media activists who produced audiovisual testimony from the front lines of protests. Their reports were grounded in their act of ‘being there’ and bearing witness, and the affective encounters that their position made possible. Their first-hand accounts were situated, partial, and deemed more convincing because they rejected the mainstream media's claims to ‘objective truth’ – as a view from everywhere that is simultaneously a view from nowhere (and no-one) – in favour of situated truth, witnessed directly, unsettling traditional divisions between representation and reality, and questioning the conditions (and relations) through which knowledge is produced. This ethnographic engagement with the knowledge practices of others, and the role of witnessing within them, reflects on anthropological knowledge practices more broadly, and how they may be conceived otherwise in light of empirical variants from our fields.