Bruno Latour and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro provided the initial impetus for explicitly ontological research in archaeology. Their impact on archaeologists, however, has been quite different. What I call the “metaphysical archaeologists” trace their genealogy from Latour, though they are now equally influenced by “new materialism” and the “new ontological realism” (Gabriel 2015). They have introduced an alternative metaphysical orthodoxy to archaeology. In contrast, Viveiros de Castro and colleagues have authorized the return of the grand ethnographic analogy to archaeology, particularly in the case of animism. A second, quite different tendency inspired by these same anthropologists is to engage with indigenous ideas as theories to reconfigure archaeological concepts and practice. I suggest that a point of convergence between the metaphysical and the latter anthropological approaches exists in their focus on the concept of alterity.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Literature Cited

  1. Alaimo S, Hekman SJ. 2008. Material Feminisms Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  2. Alberti B. 2012. Queer prehistory: bodies, performativity, and matter. Blackwell Companion to Gender Prehistory D Bolger 86–107 Oxford, UK: Blackwell [Google Scholar]
  3. Alberti B. 2013. Archaeology and ontologies of scale: the case of miniaturization in first millennium northwest Argentina. See Alberti et al. 2013 43–58
  4. Alberti B. 2014a. Archaeology, risk, and the alter-politics of materiality. Fieldsights Theor. Contemp. Cult. Anthropol. Online Jan. 13. http://culanth.org/fieldsights/476-archaeology-risk-and-the-alter-politics-of-materiality [Google Scholar]
  5. Alberti B. 2014b. Designing body-pots in the Early Formative La Candelaria Culture, northwest Argentina. See Hallam & Ingold 2014 107–25
  6. Alberti B, Bray TL. 2009. Animating archaeology: of subjects, objects, and alternative ontologies. Camb. Archaeol. J. 19:3337–43 [Google Scholar]
  7. Alberti B, Fowles S, Holbraad M, Marshall Y, Witmore CL. 2011. ‘Worlds otherwise’: archaeology, anthropology and ontological difference. Curr. Anthropol. 52:6896–912 [Google Scholar]
  8. Alberti B, Jones AM, Pollard J. 2013. Archaeology After Interpretation: Returning Materials to Archaeological Theory Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press [Google Scholar]
  9. Alberti B, Marshall Y. 2009. Animating archaeology: local theories and conceptually open-ended methodologies. Camb. Archaeol. J. 19:3344–56 [Google Scholar]
  10. Anderson B, Harrison P. 2010. Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography Aldershot, UK: Ashgate [Google Scholar]
  11. Barad K. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  12. Bennett J. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  13. Betts MW, Blair SE, Black DW. 2012. Perspectivism, mortuary symbolism, and human-shark relationships on the Maritime Peninsula. Am. Antiq. 77:4621–45 [Google Scholar]
  14. Borić D. 2013. Theater of predation: beneath the skin of Göbekli Tepe images. See Watts 2013a 42–64
  15. Bray T. 2009. An archaeological perspective on the Andean concept of camaquen: thinking through late pre-Columbian ofrendas and huacas. Camb. Archaeol. J. 19:3357–66 [Google Scholar]
  16. Bray T. 2012. Ritual commensality between human and non-human persons: investigating native ontologies in the Late Pre-Columbian Andean world. eTopoi: J. Anc. Stud. Spec 2:197–212 [Google Scholar]
  17. Bray T. 2015. The Archaeology of Wak'as: Explorations of the Sacred in the Pre-Columbian Andes Bolder: Univ. Colo. Press [Google Scholar]
  18. Brittain MWR. 2013. Assembling bodies, making worlds: an archaeological topology of place. See Alberti et al. 2013 257–76
  19. Brown LA, Walker WH. 2008. Prologue: Archaeology, animism and non-human agents. J. Archaeol. Method Theory 15:4297–99 [Google Scholar]
  20. Bryant L, Srnicek N, Harman G. 2011. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism Melbourne, Aust.: re.press [Google Scholar]
  21. Budden S, Sofaer J. 2009. Non-discursive knowledge and the construction of identity potters, potting and performance at the Bronze Age tell of Százhalombatta, Hungary. Camb. Archaeol. J. 19:2203–20 [Google Scholar]
  22. Burström M. 2012. If we are quiet, will things cry out?. Curr. Swed. Archaeol. 20:41–45 [Google Scholar]
  23. Butler J. 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  24. Cabral M. 2015. Traces of past subjects: experiencing indigenous thought as an archaeological mode of knowledge. J. Contemp. Archaeol. 2:2S1–30 [Google Scholar]
  25. Conneller C. 2004. Becoming deer. Corporeal transformations at Star Carr. Archaeol. Dialogues 11:137–56 [Google Scholar]
  26. Conneller C. 2011. An Archaeology of Materials: Substantial Transformations in Early Prehistoric Europe London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  27. Coole D, Frost S. 2010. Introducing the new materialisms. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics D Coole, S Frost 1–46 Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  28. Creese JL. 2011. Algonquian rock art and the landscape of power. J. Soc. Archaeol. 11:13–20 [Google Scholar]
  29. DeLanda M. 2004. Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy London: Continuum [Google Scholar]
  30. Deleuze G, Guattari F. 1988. A Thousand Plateaus, transl. B Massumi Minneapolis: Univ. Minn. Press [Google Scholar]
  31. Deloria V. 2003. God Is Red: A Native View of Religion Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publ. 3rd ed. [Google Scholar]
  32. DeSilvey C. 2006. Observed decay: telling stories with mutable things. J. Mater. Cult. 11:3318–38 [Google Scholar]
  33. Dolwick JS. 2009. ‘The Social’ and beyond: introducing actor-network theory. J. Marit. Archaeol. 4:121–49 [Google Scholar]
  34. Edgeworth M. 2012. Follow the cut, follow the rhythm, follow the material. Nor. Archaeol. Rev. 45:176–92 [Google Scholar]
  35. Edgeworth M. 2016. Grounded objects: archaeology and speculative realism. Archaeol. Dialogues 23:193–113 [Google Scholar]
  36. Fowler C. 2004. The Archaeology of Personhood: An Anthropological Approach London: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  37. Fowler C. 2013a. Dynamic assemblages, or the past is what endures: Change and the duration of relations. See Alberti et al. 2013 235–56
  38. Fowler C. 2013b. The Emergent Past: A Relational Realist Archaeology of Early Bronze Age Mortuary Practices Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  39. Fowler C, Harris OJ. 2015. Enduring relations: exploring a paradox of new materialism. J. Mater. Cult. 20:2127–48 [Google Scholar]
  40. Fowles S. 2013. An Archaeology of Doings: Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion Santa Fe, NM: Sch. Adv. Res. Press [Google Scholar]
  41. Gabriel M. 2015. Fields of Sense: A New Realist Ontology Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  42. Gosden C. 2008. Social ontologies. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 363:2003–10 [Google Scholar]
  43. Gosden C, Garrow D. 2012. A Technology of Enchantment? Exploring Celtic Art 400 BC–AD 100 Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  44. Green L, Green D. 2013. Knowing the Day, Knowing the World: Engaging Amerindian Thought in Public Archaeology Tucson: Univ. Ariz. Press [Google Scholar]
  45. Grosz E. 1994. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  46. Haber AF. 2009. Animism, relatedness, life: post-Western perspectives. Camb. Archaeol. J. 19:3418–30 [Google Scholar]
  47. Haber A. 2013. Carnival times and the semiopraxis of the snake: mining and the politics of knowledge. See Alberti et al. 2013 79–96
  48. Hallam E, Ingold T. 2014. Making and Growing: Anthropological Studies of Organisms and Artefacts Aldershot, UK: Ashgate [Google Scholar]
  49. Hamilakis Y. 2011. Indigenous archaeologies in Ottoman Greece. Scramble for the Past: The Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire 1733–1914 Z Bahrani, Z Celik, E Eldem 49–69 Istanbul: Salt [Google Scholar]
  50. Hamilakis Y. 2013. Archaeology and the Senses: Human Experience, Memory, and Affect Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  51. Haraway D. 2008. When Species Meet Minneapolis: Univ. Minn. Press [Google Scholar]
  52. Harman G. 2009. Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics Melbourne, Aust.: re.press [Google Scholar]
  53. Harman G. 2016. On behalf of form: the view from archaeology and architecture. Elements of Architecture: Assembling Archaeology, Atmosphere and the Performance of Building Spaces M Bille, TF Sorensen 30–46 London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  54. Harris K, Hamilakis Y. 2014. Beyond the wild, the feral, and the domestic: lessons from prehistoric Crete. Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies G Marvin, S McHugh, pp. 97–113 London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  55. Harris O. 2013. Relational communities in prehistoric Britain. See Watts 2013a. 173–89
  56. Harris O, Robb J. 2012. Multiple ontologies and the problem of the body in history. Am. Anthropol. 114:4668–79 [Google Scholar]
  57. Heidegger M. 2008. Being and Time New York: Harper Collins [Google Scholar]
  58. Henare A, Holbraad M, Wastell S. 2007a. Introduction: Thinking through things. See Henare et al. 2007b. 1–31
  59. Henare A, Holbraad M, Wastell S. 2007b. Thinking Through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  60. Hill E. 2013. Archaeology and animal persons: toward a prehistory of human-animal relations. Environ. Soc. Adv. Res. 4:117–36 [Google Scholar]
  61. Hodder I. 2012. Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships Between Humans and Things Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell [Google Scholar]
  62. Hodder I. 2014. The asymmetries of symmetrical archaeology. J. Contemp. Archaeol. 1:2228–30 [Google Scholar]
  63. Hodder I. 2016. Studies in Human-Thing Entanglement Online-only publ. http://www.ian-hodder.com/books/studies-human-thing-entanglement [Google Scholar]
  64. Hofmann D. 2013. Intimate connection: bodies and substances in flux in the early Neolithic of central Europe. See Watts 2013a 154–72
  65. Holbraad M. 2007. The power of powder: multiplicity and motion in the divinatory cosmology of Cuban Ifá (or mana, again). See Henare et al. 2007b 189–225
  66. Holbraad M. 2012. Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press [Google Scholar]
  67. Holbraad M. 2014. How things can unsettle. Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion P Harvey, EC Casella, G Evans, H Knox, C McLean , et al., pp. 228–37 London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  68. Ingold T. 2007. Materials against materiality. Archaeol. Dialogues 14:11–16 [Google Scholar]
  69. Ingold T. 2012. Toward an ecology of materials. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 41:427–42 [Google Scholar]
  70. Ingold T. 2013. Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  71. Ingold T. 2014. Is there life amidst the ruins?. J. Contemp. Archaeol. 1:2231–35 [Google Scholar]
  72. Ingold T. 2015. The Life of Lines London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  73. Jones AM. 2012. Prehistoric Materialities: Becoming Material in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  74. Jones AM, Alberti B. 2013. Archaeology after interpretation. See Alberti et al. 2013 15–35
  75. Jones AM, Sibbesson E. 2013. Archaeological complexity: materials, multiplicity, and the transitions to agriculture in Britain. See Alberti et al. 2013 151–76
  76. Kohn E. 2015. Anthropology of ontologies. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 44:311–27 [Google Scholar]
  77. Kopenawa D, Albert B. 2013. The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman Cambridge, MA: Belknap [Google Scholar]
  78. Laguens G. 2013. Unstable contexts: relational ontologies and domestic settings in Andean northwest Argentina. See Alberti et al. 2013 97–118
  79. Latour B. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  80. Latour B. 1999. Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  81. Latour B. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory Oxford, UK: Clarendon [Google Scholar]
  82. Latour B. 2009. Perspectivism: ‘type’or ‘bomb’?. Anthropol. Today 25:21–2 [Google Scholar]
  83. Latour B. 2013. An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  84. Losey RJ, Bazaliiskii VI, Lieverse AR, Waters-Rist A, Faccia K, Weber AW. 2013. The bear-able likeness of being: Ursine remains at the Shamanka II cemetery, Lake Baikal, Siberia. See Watts 2013a 65–96
  85. Lucas G. 2012. Understanding the Archaeological Record Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  86. Lucas G. 2013. Afterword: Archaeology and the science of new objects. See Alberti et al. 2013 369–80
  87. Malafouris L. 2013. How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement Cambridge, MA: MIT Press [Google Scholar]
  88. Marshall Y, Alberti B. 2014. A matter of difference: Karen Barad, ontology and archaeological bodies. Camb. Archaeol. J. 24:19–36 [Google Scholar]
  89. Martin AM. 2013. Archaeology Beyond Postmodernity: A Science of the Social Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press [Google Scholar]
  90. Meillassoux Q. 2008. After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency London/New York: Continuum [Google Scholar]
  91. Mol A. 2002. The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  92. Olivier L. 2011. The Dark Abyss of Time: Archaeology and Memory Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press [Google Scholar]
  93. Olsen B. 2010. In Defense of Things: Archaeology and Ontology of Objects Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press [Google Scholar]
  94. Olsen B. 2012a. After interpretation: remembering archaeology. Curr. Swed. Archaeol. 20:11–34 [Google Scholar]
  95. Olsen B. 2012b. Symmetrical archaeology. Archaeological Theory Today I Hodder 208–28 Oxford, UK: Blackwell Press, 2nd ed.. [Google Scholar]
  96. Olsen B, Pétursdóttir Þ. 2014. Ruin Memories: Materiality, Aesthetics and the Archaeology of the Recent Past London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  97. Olsen B, Shanks M, Webmoor T, Witmore CL. 2012. Archaeology: The Discipline of Things Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  98. Olsen B, Witmore C. 2015. Archaeology, symmetry and the ontology of things. A response to critics. Archaeol. Dialogues 22:2187–97 [Google Scholar]
  99. Oma KA, Birke L. 2013. Guest editors' introduction: archaeology and human-animals studies. Soc. Anim. 21:113–19 [Google Scholar]
  100. Overton NJ, Hamilakis Y. 2013. A manifesto for a social zooarchaeology. Swans and other beings in the Mesolithic. Archaeol. Dialogues 20:2111–36 [Google Scholar]
  101. Pétursdóttir Þ. 2012. Small things forgotten now included, or what else do things deserve?. Int. J. Hist. Archaeol. 16:3577–603 [Google Scholar]
  102. Pétursdóttir Þ. 2014. Things out-of-hand: the aesthetics of abandonment. See Olsen & Pétursdóttir 2014 3–30
  103. Pétursdóttir Þ, Olsen B. 2014. An archaeology of ruins. See Olsen & Pétursdóttir 2014. 3–30
  104. Robb J, Harris O. 2015. The Body in History Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  105. Robinson D. 2013. Transmorphic being, corresponding affect: ontology and rock art in South-Central California. See Alberti et al. 2013 59–78
  106. Scott MW. 2014. To be a wonder: anthropology, cosmology, and alterity. Framing Cosmologies: The Anthropology of Worlds A Abramson, M Holbraad 31–54 Manchester, UK: Manch. Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  107. Shanks M. 2007. Symmetrical archaeology. World Archaeol 39:4589–96 [Google Scholar]
  108. Stengers I. 2011. Wondering and materialism. See Bryant et al. 2011 68–80
  109. Strathern M. 1988. The Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  110. Swenson E. 2015. The materialities of place making in the ancient Andes: a critical appraisal of the ontological turn in archaeological interpretation. J. Archaeol. Method Theory 22:3677–712 [Google Scholar]
  111. Thomas J. 1996. Time, Culture and Identity: An Interpretive Archaeology London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  112. Thomas J. 2015. The future of archaeological theory. Antiquity 89:3481287–96 [Google Scholar]
  113. Vannini P. 2015. Non-Representational Methodologies: Re-Envisioning Research London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  114. Venkatesan S, Carrithers M, Candea M, Sykes K, Holbraad M. 2010. Ontology is just another word for culture. Crit. Anthropol. 30:152–200 [Google Scholar]
  115. Viveiros de Castro E. 2003. (Anthropology) AND (science). Manch. Pap. Soc. Anthropol. 7: https://sites.google.com/a/abaetenet.net/nansi/abaetextos/anthropology-and-science-e-viveiros-de-castro [Google Scholar]
  116. Viveiros de Castro E. 2010. Metafísicas Caníbales: Líneas de Antropología Postestructural Buenos Aires: Katz Ed. [Google Scholar]
  117. Viveiros de Castro E. 2012. Cosmological perspectivism in Amazonia and elsewhere. HAU: Masterclass Ser 1:45–168 [Google Scholar]
  118. Wallace S. 2011. Contradictions of Archaeological Theory: Engaging Critical Realism and Archaeological Theory London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  119. Watts C. 2013a. Relational Archaeologies London/New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  120. Watts C. 2013b. Relational archaeologies: roots and routes. See Watts 2013a 1–20
  121. Webmoor T. 2005. Mediational techniques and conceptual frameworks in archaeology: a model in ‘mapwork’at Teotihuacán, Mexico. J. Soc. Archaeol. 5:152–84 [Google Scholar]
  122. Webmoor T, Witmore CL. 2008. Things are us! A commentary on human/things relations under the banner of a ‘social’ archaeology. Nor. Archaeol. Rev. 41:11–18 [Google Scholar]
  123. Weismantel M. 2013. Inhuman eyes: looking at Chavín de Huantar. See Watts 2013a 21–41
  124. Weismantel M. 2015. Seeing like an archaeologist: Viveiros de Castro at Chavín de Huantar. J. Soc. Archaeol. 15:2139–59 [Google Scholar]
  125. Wilkinson D. 2013. The Emperor's new body: personhood, ontology and the Inka sovereign. Camb. Archaeol. J. 23:3417–32 [Google Scholar]
  126. Willerslev R. 2007. Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood Among the Siberian Yukaghirs Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  127. Witmore C. 2014. Archaeology and the new materialisms. J. Contemp. Archaeol. 1:2203–46 [Google Scholar]
  128. Witmore CL. 2007. Symmetrical archaeology: excerpts of a manifesto. World Archaeol 39:4546–62 [Google Scholar]
  129. Zedeño MN. 2013. Methodological and analytical challenges in relational archaeologies: a view from the hunting ground. See Watts 2013a 117–34
  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error