Eliciting Self-determination: The Kayapo Mobilization Through Activism and Global Indigenous Media

by Carla Silva-Muhammad

View/download paper


Exactly how do indigenous actors elicit the right of self-determination as inherited, and to what extent does such agency reconstitute or validate human rights norms? This essay proposes that within their unique project of self-representation and activism, the Kayapo indigenous society is indeed reformulating the concept of self-determination. I suggest that by denouncing injustice and human rights violations through self-documentation and use of global indigenous media, protests, and political alliances, this indigenous group is not only claiming reparations from the Brazilian government, but also reshaping the language of human rights. Moreover, this essay explores how the Kayapo communities engage in activism pertaining to the construction of the Belo Monte Dam, developing an international political identity in order to guarantee their right to self-determination and survival.

Keywords: indigenous peoples, self-determination, collective rights, global indigenous media

Related Files

Project & Publications Type: Rapoport Center Working Paper Series