Oisin Keohane

Oisin Keohane

Oisin Keohane

Former Postdoctoral Fellow, Jackman Humanities Institute​

“Thinking long-term about my place in academia, being based at U of T has given me an insight not only into Canada, but also into North America.”

I came to Toronto from the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, and before that, from the Philosophy Department at the University of Johannesburg. Prior to holding posts at these institutes, I completed my PhD at the London School of Economics.

My path to Toronto has been circuitous, but considering the nature of my research—the globalisation of English—it is very fitting since the language politics of countries like South Africa, the UK, and Canada are some of the most fascinating and important for our time.

What interested me about U of T was the theme of the Jackman Humanities Institute (JHI) this past academic year: translation and the multiplicity of languages. This is something my work engages with. I was excited about working with like-minded individuals from different disciplines—such as English Literature, French, Comparative Literature, History, and Religion—on a shared theme.

I knew that working in such a collaborative environment would be really helpful. My current research is, by necessity, interdisciplinary, and is entitled: “How to Do Things with ‘Anglobalisation’: Towards Linguistic Justice.”

The research facilities at U of T are world class. I particularly treasure the excellent French language resources in the libraries here. This is particularly useful for me when, say, I wish to read Derrida’s French texts beside the English translations. This shows the importance of continuing to fund non-English resources even when we live in the age of “Anglobalisation.”

Places like the JHI are exciting spaces for new ideas, for crossing paths with others, and for intellectual discovery. It is rare for universities to realise the impact of space on work—from mundane factors like the importance of having a pleasant room to eat together so as to better “digest” ideas, to more ethereal factors like having art on the wall to get the creative juices flowing. I really do believe that a space which is inspiring stimulates great ideas. Walking into the JHI still thrills me.

​Thinking long-term about my place in academia, being based at U of T has given me an insight not only into Canada, but also into North America. Career-wise, it has been very beneficial as it has allowed me to appreciate the depth of differences between the academic systems of the UK and Canada, even with the increasing internationalisation of universities across the globe. While “mobility” is one of the defining words of our times—and my own travels bear witness to this—appreciation of the local and the untranslatable has never been so important.​