Iracema Dulley is an anthropologist whose work draws from over fifteen years of engagement with colonial and post-colonial Angola, social theory, and continental philosophy. The projects she has undertaken have as a common ground an interest in the relationship between sociocultural, political, historical, and linguistic elements in subject constitution. This has been explored through investigations on translation in Christian missions, state and vernacular forms of naming oneself and others, emic designation in ethnographic writing, the formation of Ovimbundu ethnicity, and accusations of witchcraft and treason.

Dulley has held post-doctoral fellowships at the London School of Economics and the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning. Before joining the ICI Berlin, she led a FAPESP grant project on subject constitution in African contexts at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar). Her publications include Deus é feiticeiro: prática e disputa nas missões católicas em Angola colonial (2010); Os nomes dos outros: etnografia e diferença em Roy Wagner (2015); and On the Emic Gesture: Difference and Ethnography in Roy Wagner (2019).

De(-)Signation: Naming Subjects in Angola
ICI Project 2020-22

The project considers the relation between naming and subject constitution through an interrogation of both reduction and complexification. If names are the reduction upon which designation and description depend (according to Saul Kripke’s theory of the name as ‘rigid’ designation), the performativity of naming retains a potential for dissemination, as Jacques Derrida has argued. How do the names attributed to oneself and others intertwine with changing contextual positionalities related to race, ethnicity, status, gender, region, and class?

This project proposes an ethnographic theorization of how the performativity of naming constitutes subjects via fixation and displacement. In analysing the iterative chain of signification through which subjects were constituted by state and vernacular naming in colonial and post-colonial Angola, aspects of interpellation related to reduction (fixation, designation, totalization, homogenization) and complexification (dissemination, transformation, displacement) shall be considered simultaneously.