Beyond Make-Do Innovation: Practices and Politics of Technological Improvisation in Brazil


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In Brazil, popular notions of ingenuity have recently been used to inspire new forms of innovation. However, improvisational experiences have always been part of local strategies of technological development. Based on field research conducted in São Paulo and Manaus, this dissertation is an ethnographic and historical examination of the relationship between improvisation and technological production. It follows grassroots techno-activists, state-led innovation projects, independent cellphone repairers, and electronics industry workers to understand how improvisation has been contextually thought, performed, and valued. While scholars have discussed improvisation as an aspect of Brazilian culture, this dissertation attends to the reconfiguration of improvisation in the context of growing discussions about innovation from the global South, making contributions to debates on speculative critique, inclusive innovation, repair economies, and tech labor.