Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Special Section: Animating Archaeology: of Subjects, Objects and Alternative Ontologies

Ontology, Ethnography, Archaeology: an Afterword on the Ontography of Things

Martin Holbraada1

a1 Department of Anthropology, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT; Email:


In commenting on the preceding articles of the Special Section, this afterword elaborates on the methodological and analytical implications for archaeology of the ontological alterity of animist phenomena. If such phenomena are challenging because they transgress the conceptual coordinates of archaeologists' habitual interpretive repertoires (mind vs matter, materiality vs culture, etc.), then what might archaeology's response to such challenges be, what might be distinctively archaeological about it, and how might it compare to related concerns among socio-cultural anthropologists and philosophers?

(Received April 01 2009)

(Accepted May 20 2009)

(Revised September 07 2009)

Martin Holbraad works at the Anthropology Department of University College London. He has conducted fieldwork on Afro-Cuban religion in Havana since 1998. He is co-editor of Thinking Through Things (Routledge, 2007) and Technologies of the Imagination (Special Issue of Ethnos, Spring 2009). His monograph, Ifá Never Lies: Cuban Divination and Anthropological Truth, is in preparation.