Dr Kumar Mahabir of Trinidad and Tobago appointed at the University of Guyana

June 30th, 2021

Dr Mahabir’s PhD graduation at the Univesity of Florida in 1997

Dr Kumar Mahabir of Trinidad and Tobago has been recently appointed a full-time anthropologist at the University of Guyana. He chose Guyana over his offer as a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA because of the proximity to his home country, the warm climate and the cultural similarities.

Mahabir will be taking up residence in university housing as soon as T&T’s borders are open. He will teach Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as design programs focusing on Indo-Caribbean Culture.

He is going at a historic juncture in the history of the South American country. In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that oil-and-gas rich Guyana would be the fourth-largest growing economy in the world. Nasdaq projects a 16.39% growth in 2021, and cited the U.S. Geological Survey which identified the Guyana-Suriname Basin as the second highest resource potential among unexplored oil basins in the world. Several companies have been involved with exploration and drilling activities recently, including ExxonMobil, Esso, Hess, Repsol, Anadarko, Total, Tullow Oil and CGX Energy.

In an interview yesterday, Mahabir said, “I am indeed fortunate to have been offered this teaching and research position at this time when the COVID-19 pandemic is leaving a trail of unemployed people all over the world. My last academic job was an Assistant Professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) where I was wrongfully and unfairly selected for retrenchment among a cohort of 69 lecturers in 2018. There was no justifiable, equitable and transparent criterion for retrenchment.” Mahabir’s case against the UTT is still pending in the High Court.

Mahabir obtained his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. As a doctoral student, he won a Florida Caribbean Institute Award, an A. Curtis Wilgus Fellowship, and an Organization of American States (OAS) Fellowship. On Independence Day 2011, the T&T government gave him a national award (Hummingbird Medal (Silver)), for his loyal and devoted service to the field of education.

Published in The Round Table Commonwealth Journal

A few years ago, Mahabir was awarded a travel and research grant by the Ministry of Tourism in India. He was also granted a scholarship by the Government of the Netherlands, through the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS), to give a lecture-presentation at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

In 2011, Mahabir was presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Alumni Association. He was among a group of 50 alumni selected from about 20,000 graduates who attended the UWI for the past 50 years. He received his BA and M.Phil. degrees in Literatures in English from UWI, St Augustine. In the same year, he was the only academic from the Caribbean to win an international scholarship to go to Egypt to participate in a workshop on Visual Methodologies.

Dr Mahabir is the author of twelve (12) books including a national bestseller, Medicinal and Edible Plants used by East Indians of Trinidad and Tobago. His most recent books are Indian Caribbean Folklore Spirits, The Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean, and Multiple Identities: Essays on Caribbean Literature.

He has also published several articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals including Caribbean Studies, Florida Journal of Anthropology, Toronto South Asian Review, Caribbean Medical Journal, USC Journal of Research, International Journal for Women’s Studies, the Journal of Caribbean Literatures and the Round Table Commonwealth Journal, as well as in the Encyclopaedia of Indian Religions: Hinduism and Tribal Religions.

For a few decades, he has been involved in research on (East) Indians in Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Belize and French Guiana. Mahabir is also the CEO of CHAKRA Publishing and the Director of a weekly Sunday evening/night webinar on Indo-Caribbean history, society, politics and culture.

June 30, 2021