Studies in National and International Development


National and International Development

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CAISO, CAISO: Negotiating sex rights and nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago

Andil Gosine

York University, Department of Sociology


1pm-2:30pm, Mackintosh Corry Hall, Room D214

Nationalism is considered to be a punitive force in most credible analysis of sexual liberation.  Jasbir Puar’s concept of “homonationalism” has become ubiquitous in critical sexualities scholarship over the past decade, and has been adapted as a framework to characterize the invocation of a homosexual-inclusive nationalism to advance economic, political and military ambitions including, most famously, in the case of Israeli “pinkwashing” campaigns.  Homophobic nationalism has also long undermined erotic autonomy, and been invoked by various political leaders globally.  It is in this context that the Trinidad and Tobago-based organization CAISO, whose motto is “making sexual and gender diversity part of T&T’s national identity,” has staked out complex and interesting political space.  Led by co-founder and key organizer Colin Robinson, CAISO weighs and works through difficult and competing tensions that emerge from the mix of forces engaged in struggles for sexual rights: a local government resistant to changing laws outlawing homosexuality, a local, feminist scholarly tradition that could be described as “anti-nationalist,” and the domineering global discourses which includes international development assistance, popular culture, tourism and other commercial ventures and a dominant liberal rights discourse—on the other.  In this presentation,  I document and consider the beginning of CAISO’s pursuit of what Robinson calls a “feminist nationalist politics.”  I describe CAISO’s formation and approach to advocacy, and consider how their organizational and political practices weigh some of these tensions.

Andil Gosine

About the Speaker: Andil Gosine is Associate Professor of Sociology at York University.  His research and analysis of contemporary tensions on sexuality and nationalism appear in the collections Queerly Canadian, Queer Online, Queer Youth Cultures, Queer Ecology, and in the journals Sexualities, Topia, Canadian Women Studies, Alternatives and Women and Environment.  This fall, the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex will publish his reflections on the past decade of global sexual rights as "Normal, and not: Same Sex  desire in international development."