Seeing like an archaeologist: Viveiros de Castro at Chavín de Huantar

Mary Weismantel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This article juxtaposes Viveiros de Castro’s theory of ‘perspectivism’ with carved stone monoliths from the Peruvian site of Chavín de Huantar to explore the interactions between humans, animals, and things in Pre-Columbian material culture. Using insights from new work on animal/human relations and the ethnography of shamanism and hunting, it illuminates aspects of the iconography, scale, and style of the stones that were previously opaque. Finally, it challenges archaeologists to address the limitations of perspectivism, notably its abstraction and ahistoricism, avoiding the retrogressive return to romantic primitivism that sometimes mars the ontological turn, thus transforming perspectivism into a better means of political engagement with indigenous Americans present and past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-159
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 9 2015


  • Andean archaeology
  • Chavín de Huantar
  • Vivieros de Castro
  • animal/human
  • hunting
  • perspectivism
  • shamanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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