Areas of Interest
- Caribbean Studies
- Sexuality Studies
- Queer Diasporas
- Transnational Feminisms
- Performance Studies
- Popular Culture (with focus on music, dance and vocality)
- Sound Studies
- Queer Studies
- Drag Culture
- Afro-Asian Studies
Ryan Persadie is a writer, artist, educator, and PhD Candidate in Women and Gender studies and Sexual Diversity studies at the University of Toronto. His aesthetic and scholarly work investigates queer Caribbean diasporas, performance, aesthetics, and Afro-Asian intimacies. His current doctoral work specifically explores how Anglophone Caribbean music, dance, vocality, and embodiment offer salient archives to pursue critical erotic place- and self-making practices within and among queer Indo-Caribbean diasporas. Outside of academia, Ryan is a community organizer with the Caribbean Equality Project, and performs as a drag artist where he goes by the stage name of Tifa Wine.
Program: PhD 2018
Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology and Sexual Diversity Studies (Faculty of Music, University of Toronto)
Bachelor of Education (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto)
Bachelor of Music, Honours Specialization in Music Education (University of Western Ontario)
Title: The Infrastructures of Qoolie Diaspora: Erotic Self-Making, Embodied Ontologies, and the Spatial Politics of Queer Indo-Caribbean Performance Cultures
Supervisor: Alissa Trotz and R. Cassandra Lord
My doctoral project is a multi-sited research study into geographies I conceptualize as “queer fêtes”. Often organized by LGBTQI+ Caribbean community organizations in diasporic sites such as Toronto and New York City, queer fêtes include performances by soca and chutney artists, drag and burlesque artists, and DJs. Extending upon Carnival histories and legacies of non-conformity towards systems of regulation, queer fête practises unsettle and critique regimes of racial, classed, sexual, and gender regimes, such as compulsory heterosexuality, that continue to dictate the politics of belonging and sexual citizenship for marginalized communities in Canada and the US.
This dissertation project traces how public performance cultures in Toronto and New York City re-orient our understandings of queer diasporic formations by focusing on Indo-Caribbean sexual and gender negotiations in the queer fête. While Indo-Caribbeanness is largely imagined as other and abject within a Caribbean predominantly represented as Afro-Caribbean and heterosexual, I investigate how queer Indo-Caribbean space, or what I refer to in this study through the term “qoolie” space, is produced across the US-Canada border, challenging understandings of queer diasporic formation bound by linear trajectories along North-South flows, and diaspora/homeland dichotomies. This study interrogates how queer Indo-Caribbean subjectivities are made via transnational cultural circuits that produce diasporic routes that do not rely upon literal return to the Caribbean region. Instead, I trace how queer Indo-Caribbean diasporas are constructed through transnational intimacies and entanglements of queer cultural production across Toronto and New York City that defy confining logics of cartographic borders (the US-Canada divide). To trace these mappings, I center the politics and practices of erotic aesthetics deeply embedded in party spaces which queer Indo-Caribbeans participate in.
Despite mainstream imaginings that see fêtes as non-political or neutral sites of celebration and joy, for queer and trans Caribbean communities, fêtes are critical sites of pedagogy where ideas of self and community are experienced, understood, and negotiated. As an important arena for historical, diasporic, and local articulations of Caribbean queerness and transness, the queer fête becomes critical ground to think through and against the performative rules of gender, race, sexuality and class. The queer fête thus becomes a central archive of queer Caribbean and feminist knowledge production that, despite being widely unacknowledged in scholarly accounts, allows us to explore the ways queer Indo-Caribbeans move to, across and between Caribbean geographies and understand their place in diaspora, as well as notions of home, community, and citizenship.
“How to Do Things with Drag: A Roundtable on Drag and/as Queer Performance in 2021.” Panelist, American Studies Association Conference, October 12 2021.
Persadie, Ryan, and Suzanne Narain. 2022. “Mash-Up as Method: Building Community-Based Approaches to Caribbean Feminist Research.” In Affirming Methodologies: Research and Education in the Caribbean, edited by Camille Nakhid, Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor, Anabel Fernández Santana, and Shakeisha Wilson-Scott, 58 – 74. London: Routledge.
Persadie, Ryan. 2022. “Tanty Feminisms: The Aesthetics of Auntyhood, #Coolieween, and the Erotics of (Post-)Indenture.” Journal of Indentureship and its Legacies 2 (1): 59 – 97.
Persadie, Ryan. 2021. ““Deh Say I’s Ah Madman”: Sounding Madness, Disability, and Mental Health Stigma in Soca Music.” Caribbean Review of Gender Studies 15: 105 – 132. https://sta.uwi.edu/crgs/december2021/documents/CRGS_15_Pgs105-132_RyanPersadie_DehSayIsAhMadman.pdf
Persadie, Ryan. 2021. “Queering “Queer” Toronto Space: Transgressive QTBIPoC Drag Artists and Disrupting Homonormativity.” Canadian Theatre Review 185: 22 – 28. https://ctr.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/ctr.185.005
Persadie, Ryan. 2021. ““Meh Just Realize I’s Ah Coolie Bai”: Indo-Caribbean Masculinities, Chutney Erotics, and Qoolie Potentials.” Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies 4 (2): 56 – 86. https://www.marlasjournal.com/articles/abstract/10.23870/marlas.287/.
Persadie, Ryan. 2019. “Sounding the “6ix”: Drake, Cultural Appropriation, and Embodied Caribbeanization.” MUSICultures 46 (1): 52 – 80.
Honours and Awards
Historical Studies Teaching Assistant Award, Department of Historical Studies, Women and Gender Studies Program, University of Toronto Mississauga
SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral Award
TA Teaching Excellence Award in Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto
Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2019-2020)
Women and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes (WGSRF) Graduate Essay Prize (First Place)