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2023-2024 Colloquium Series (Department for the Study of Religion)


Kishan was a quiet boy. The village was full of members of his extended family, who he’d play with regularly. They would all go to the mandir on Sunday mornings and for the special festival days. His effeminacy was never openly mocked and he was welcomed among the groups of men and women who cleaned the temple between services, cooked the feast meals and made the sweets. He never felt he needed to hide his sexuality, but he certainly did not flaunt it. The temple was not the space for discussing or exhibiting sexuality. However, as this lecture will show, the village, a cultural sphere bathed in the morality of the temple, yet a world away from that of scriptures, offers fascinating insight into not only how community dynamics creates various figures of spiritual and sexual immorality, but also how such figures are granted grace when they contribute to the community’s wellbeing. The lecture will draw from interviews with same-sex desiring men (4) and women (4) from rural Trinidad, highlighting the intersections and exclusions of religious community, family dynamics, and community service that facilitate sexual freedom.


Krystal Ghisyawan is an Indo-Trinidadian queer scholar, activist, educator and artist, trained in Anthropology and South Asian Studies (Honors B.A., York University, Toronto 2007-2011), and Sociology (PhD, University of the West Indies, Trinidad, 2012-2016). She is the author of the book Erotic Cartographies: Decolonization and the Queer Caribbean Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2022), which won the Gordon K. & Sybil Lewis Award, at the Caribbean Studies Association 2022. Formerly the Director of Research at the Silver Lining Foundation (in Trinidad and Tobago), Dr. Ghisyawan guided the organization’s knowledge development portfolio, in their conducting of two nationwide school climate surveys and developing a training program for teachers in managing diversity and conflict resolution.

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