Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, Vol 2, No 2 (2015)

Traces of Past Subjects: Experiencing Indigenous Thought as an Archaeological Mode of Knowledge

Mariana Petry Cabral
Issued Date: 12 Jan 2016


For the last six years I engaged in a series of activities with the Wajãpi, a Tupian people living in the extreme North of Brazil, in the Amazon forest. As soon as we started field work, many archaeological sites were registered. It didn´t take me long, though, to realize that there was much more to know about material remains of the past, as seen from a Wajãpi point of view. Following the Wajãpi mode of knowledge regarding the past and its traces, I aimed to unveil processes of engagement and meaning with material past, which are analogous to archaeology. I argue that we should experiment more with the idea that “we are all archaeologist”, both as means of critique towards disciplinary knowledge production, and as means to perceive other modes of knowledge.

Download Media


DOI: 10.1558/jca.v2i2.28447


Balée, W. 2013. Cultural Forests of the Amazon: A Historical Ecology of People and Their Landscapes. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Gallois, D. T. 1988. O Movimento na Cosmologia Wajãpi: criação, expansão e transformação do universo. PhD diss., Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas, USP, São Paulo.

____. 2009. “Cultivating a Culture: Wajãpi Inventions”. In Anthropologies of Guayana: Cultural Spaces in Northeastern Amazonia, edited by N. Whitehead and S. Alemán, 222–234. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

____. 2012. “Donos, detentores e usuários da arte gráfica Kusiwa.” Revista de Antropologia 55(1) 19–49.

____., M. P. Cabral, A. Wajãpi and J. Wajãpi. 2014. Relatório Final: Jane Ypy: Documentação dos saberes wajãpi sobre a formação da terra e da humanidade. Convênio n.774915/2012 – IPHAN/Iepé. Programa Nacional de Patrimônio Imaterial. São Paulo: Iepé and IPHAN.

Grenand, P. 1982. Ainsi parlaient nos ancêtres: essai d´ethnohistoire wayãpi. Travaux et Documents 148. Paris: ORSTOM.

Haber, Alejandro. 2012. “Un-Disciplining Archaeology.” Archaeologies 8(1): 55–66.

Hamilakis, Y. 2008. “Decolonizing Greek Archaeology: Indigenous Archaeologies, Modernist Archaeology and the Post-Colonial Critique.” Athens (Supplement 3): 1–15.

Rostain, S. 2013. Islands in the Rainforest: Landscape Management in Pre-Columbian Amazonia. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Santos-Granero, F., ed. 2009. The Occult Life of Things: Native Amazonian Theories of Materiality and Personhood. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Schaan, D. P. 2012. Sacred Geographies of Ancient Amazonia: Historical Ecology of Social Complexity. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Tuhiwai Smith, L. 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Otago, NZ: University of Otago Press.

Viveiros de Castro, E. 1998. “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4(3): 469–488.

____. 2002. “O nativo relativo.” Mana 8(1): 113–148.

____. 2004. “Exchanging Perspectives: The Transformation of Objects into Subjects in Amerindian Ontologies.” Common Knowledge 10(3): 463–484.

Wagner, R. 1981. The Invention of Culture. Revised edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: [email protected]

Privacy Policy