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Critical media participations: media literacy and youth-produced videos from Latina/o audiences in the U.S.-Mexico border


This dissertation tries to deal critically with the common utilization of media literacy as skilled-based initiative or participatory culture building. It raises a number of questions about the process of participation and production that have often been ignored by a media literacy research. Based on work I did directly with two communities of youth Latina/os in weekly media workshops that had real community impact, I examine the participatory dynamics surrounding three video productions that responded to stereotypes and the topics of community service and immigration in corporate news media representations of the Latina/o community and the U.S.-Mexico border.

I look first at youth media participation in the context of afterschool and summer camp programs, and second at news media representations of the Latina/o population and the U.S.-Mexico border (2000-2012) as central to the configuration of the media landscape in the region. My aim in this context is to understand media literacy as a form of critical media participation that emphasizes the processes of production, critical thinking, power dynamics, and decision-making over the development of specific types of skills typically thought to be the core of “participatory culture.”

Exploring participants’ responses to the case studies through a framework of Participatory Action Research, I suggest that such efforts can help media educators achieve the pedagogical goal of enabling participants not only to develop critical thinking and question media representations or existing arrangements of power, but also to produce videos that reflect a deep appreciation for learning about media and the communities they live in

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