Drawing from the case of carimbó, this lecture discusses the connections and complex relations between activism, public policies, and the state. An integrated form of song, music, dance, and socialization typical of the state of Pará, Northern Brazil, carimbó was recognized as a Brazilian intangible heritage in 2014 during the Labor Party/PT government after almost ten years of research and political mobilization. Inspired by a relational and anthropological approach to the state and based on a multisited ethnography that follows a network of carimbó makers, the research reveals several feedback loops between “the state” and “civil society”. Participatory experience during the Labor administration (2003-2016) had a profound impact on cultural practices, i.e., carimbó musicking came to be constituted in relation to cultural activism. Concurrently, fazedores de cultura (literally, “culture makers”) played a major role in the formulation and implementation of cultural policies. Engaging with issues such as activism, public policies, citizenship, and participatory democracy, I argue that new ways of doing both culture and politics were created in these processes, and that “ways of doing” have particular agencies and are intrinsically related to ways of being.