Women & Gender Studies Institute

Nikoli Adrian Attai

email : nikoli.attai@mail.utoronto.ca

Nikoli Adrian Attai is an international PhD student in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. A national of Trinidad and Tobago, he read for a Master of Philosophy in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine campus, and completed a research project that investigated the ways that local transgender persons established a sense of community within their circles.

Nikoli has been involved in numerous development projects around the Caribbean region including The Mona High School Computer Literacy Initiative, which he implemented in 2007, in partial fulfilment of a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communication, at the Caribbean Institute for Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at UWI Mona, in Kingston Jamaica. In 2008, as an intern with the Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI) in Barbados, he also worked closely with childcare support administrators from islands such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Grenada.

Between 2009 and 2010, Nikoli was also part of a team conducting ethnographic research with the Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) St. Augustine Trinidad, on a project titled “Building Responsive Policy: Gender, Sexual Culture and Implications for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean”. For this project he interacted with a wide cross-section of persons, as part of an effort to better understand sexual cultures of nationals in Trinidad’s capital city, Port-of-Spain.

Nikoli has been involved in gender and sexuality research since 2009, and has been inspired by his role as ethnographer for the ‘sexual cultures project’. He has since focused on the ways that local transgender persons establish a sense of community against a backdrop of regional homophobic and transphobic legislation and morals.
While working closely with the IGDS, and under the supervision of Dr. Gabrielle Hosein and Professor Rhoda Reddock, Nikoli was the recipient of awards from the UWI Research and Publication Fund and the Canada-CARICOM Emerging Leaders Scholarship. He pursued two student exchanges at York University and the University of Toronto, and was supervised by Professors Linda Peake and Rinaldo Walcott, as he continued to think about issues of transgender identity and community in Trinidad and Tobago.

Currently, Nikoli is pursuing a PhD dissertation with a similar aim of interrogating the formation of transgender identity and community in Trinidad and Tobago, with an emphasis on how transgender bodies and communities transgress normative constructions of gender and sexuality, while positing new ways of being and existing in the present and future. For this project he is supervised by Professors Jacqui Alexander and Rinaldo Walcott, and is a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Sarah Trimble.

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