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Student profile

Philip Lagacé

Thesis supervisor: Dr. Leslie Orr

Thesis title: The Unfolding Ardhanārīśvara

Phil's work centers on Ardhanārīśvara, a composite Hindu deity split into male and female halves by a vertical axis. Scholarship has predominantly focused on the iconography, mythological narratives, and philosophical interpretations of Ardhanārīśvara while omitting content concerning the figure in living contexts, including information about its dedicated sites of worship. Moreover, some academic works have hypothesized and/or theorized links between Ardhanārīśvara and “third gender” populations but done little to investigate these purported connections further. To ameliorate these lacunas in scholarship, Phil focuses on Ardhanārīśvara as situated within ground realities, including temple complexes in which the figure serves as presiding deity, its incorporation into Durgā Pūjā festivals by gender and sexuality rights activists, and its place within the Kinnar Akhāḍā, a “transgender religious convent.”

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