Désha A Osborne

Chancellor's Fellow

  • English Literature
  • School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (LLC)

Contact details



50 George Square

Post code


  • Office Hours: Mondays 14:00-15:30


I joined the English Department in June 2023. I was previously at Hunter College, City University of New York where I taught literatures of the African diaspora.



BA (Magna Cum Laude), St Francis College

MA, University of East Anglia

PhD, University of Cambridge

Responsibilities & affiliations

Vice-President of the Early Caribbean Society

Member of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS)


Undergraduate teaching

In Semester 2 of the 2023/2024 academic year I will be teaching in 'Identity and Difference' block of the Reading Theory course. 

I will also be teaching The Black Atlantic in Semester 2

Readings for my courses are drawn from literature, historical writings, and critical texts that address issues of slavery, race, class, gender, immigration, and diaspora.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

 Caribbean and African diasporic literature and culture; 18th Century Scotland and the Caribbean; Literary history.

Current research interests

Reclaiming history through storytelling is at the centre of my current project which explores the legacies of Scotland’s involvement in the settling, managing, soldiering, and enforcement of Empire in the Caribbean. My first monograph is currently under contract with the Edinburgh University Press titled Scots and their Enslaved Families in the Ceded Islands, 1763-1834. This interdisciplinary study brings together transatlantic literary history with Scottish and Caribbean historical studies. In 2022 I was a fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library where I began a project exploring representations of Blackness and Indigeneity in theatre during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Past research interests

I earned my PhD in English from the University of Cambridge where my doctoral research was a study of the nineteenth-century Caribbean epic poem Hiroona: An Historical Romance in Poetic Form. In 2015 I edited the first critical edition of Hiroona with the University of the West Indies Press. https://www.uwipress.com/9789766405533/hiroona/

Knowledge exchange

I serve on steering committees to help better expand interest and discussion on the legacies of slavery in Scotland.

At the National Trust for Scotland, I was on the Steering Committee for the ‘Facing our Past’ Project

Facing Our Past | National Trust for Scotland (nts.org.uk)

“The Difficult History of Mahogany” Blog Series, part of National Trust for Scotland’s Facing Our Past project, (2021) https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/facing-our-past-the-difficult-history-of-mahogany 

“Leith Hall’s Tale of Two Duels” Blog Series, part of National Trust for Scotland’s Facing Our Past project, (2021) https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/facing-our-past-leith-halls-tale-of-two-duels  

I am also on the steering committee at the University of Edinburgh's Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) three-year Institute Project on Decoloniality. 

Institute Project on Decoloniality | IASH (ed.ac.uk). I am currently the special editor for the first of three volumes showcasing the research that emerged out of the first cohort of scholars. 

Conference details


'Enslaved Families in St Vincent, 1763-1834,' History, Ancestry, Heritage conference, University of the West Indies Open Campus, St Vincent and the Grenadines (June 2022) 

'Sophia Ross: Race, Colonialism and the Creation of Family Narratives in Aberdeen,' Colonial Connections: North East Scotland and it's colonial past, 1700-1840, Virtual (June 2021) 

 'Yurumein/St Vincent/Hairoun: Locating Nationhood through Cultural Expression,' International Garifuna Conference 2016, University of the West Indies (St Vincent and the Grenadines), (2016) 

Invited speaker

Keynote: 'Chatoyer, the Garifuna and the Scots in St Vincent in the 1790s,' Garifuna conference on the history and heritage of St Vincent: UK collaboration and co-production, University of Warwick (September 2022) 

Keynote: 'Alexander Leith and his Network of North East Scots in 18th Century St Vincent,' Scots Abroad, Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, University of Liverpool (July 2022) 


Conference Organiser, Colonial Connections: North East Scotland’s Colonial Past, 1700-1840 (June 2021). Virtual conference supported by IASH, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Aberdeen. The first conference to bring together scholars of literature, history, the arts with independent scholars and Scottish activists to discuss the legacies of settlers, merchants, etc from the North East of Scotland in Britain’s early empire.  


Teaching Hiroona, plenary paper for the Early Caribbean Society Virtual Anti-Racist Pedagogy Teach-in workshop ‘Teaching Race Through Long Eighteenth-Century Texts’ (May 2022) 

Chatoyer’s Sword, Chatoyer’s Gorget:  Objects of Colonial Capitulation in the Eighteenth-Century Caribbean, National Museum of Scotland ‘Baggage and Belonging’ Workshop  (February 2020) 

In the press

Participant/Contributor. ‘Chief Chatoyer of the Garifuna’ Discussion on Time Travels BBC Radio Scotland, (2022) 


Participant/Contributor. ‘Bairns’ Discussion on Scotland and the lives of enslaved people in the Caribbean.’ Human Resources Podcast, (2022)


‘The Leith Family Abroad: One Family’s Relationship to the British Empire’ Virtual public talk hosted by National Trust of Scotland, (2021) 

‘Duels, rebellions and enslaved children: Aberdonians in the Ceded Islands’ Public talk at the University of Aberdeen (2019)  

‘When History Meets Fiction’ Panel member at the Bocas Literary Festival, (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), (2016)