This lecture dwells on the subject of translation through an interrogation of the abyssal that inheres in language. How does translation both attempt and fail to bridge the gap between languages and the sociocultural contexts with which they are intertwined? Drawing on anthropology and translation studies, the project ethnographically theorizes the translations that have been historically attempted to render the concept of the abyss into Umbundu, the vernacular spoken in Central Angola. To this end, the research explores translations of the abyss from Umbundu into Portuguese in the context of Portuguese colonial rule and Christian missionization. Proposing kalunga as a more metaphorical translation (of »abyss«) and ekungu as a more literal rendering, this lecture will interrogate the border between the literal and the metaphorical as well as the distinction between objects and signifiers as it explores opacity as constitutive of translation. Based on a critical reading of colonial sources and contemporary dialogues with Umbundu speakers, it will become clear how, in Umbundu, the abyssal is associated with colonisation, death, ancestry, infinity, the unknown, circularity, seduction, deep crevices, and the sea.

Iracema Dulley works as an anthropologist, psychoanalyst, and creative writer. Her research considers processes of subject constitution from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Start: 13.05.2024, 18:15
Ende: 13.05.2024, 19:15




ifk Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften | Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien
Reichsratsstraße 17
1010 Wien


Nicht erforderlich


Stefanie Obermeir

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