I live and work in Vancouver (to be precise in Burnaby,  on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples), on the southern Pacific coast of Canada. When people learn about this, they often tell me how lucky I must be. Why am I lucky? I ask. Well, because Vancouver is such a beautiful place, with resplendent natural surroundings, etc. I often respond: yes, I am lucky. And yes, it's true that Vancouver (or more precisely, its natural surroundings) is beautiful. But that's not why I am lucky. The true value of Vancouver, to me, is not its nature, but its people. Like many here (including most of my students), I am an immigrant to this place. And I am certainly lucky to be an immigrant here: I've spent almost half my life abroad, and comparing, say, my failed attempt to immigrate to the United States with my (luckily) successful attempt to immigrate to Canada, I'm left in no doubt: what makes Vancouver special is that it's a place where people from anywhere can integrate and lead good lives together. Day-to-day, I have the pleasure of interacting with people -- in personal and professional capacities -- who are very much "not from here," but who count themselves as exceptionally lucky to be here. I can't think of any other place in the world where I would have a similar opportunity to be part of a global community like I am at SFU and its immediate surrounds. In short, when people ask me, "so where are you from?" (which they often do), it's from genuine interest and not in the accusatory tone (which I have heard so many times before) of asking "what are you doing in my country?"

So where am I from? I'm from Norway, where I grew up in the fair city of Fredrikstad, known for its historic fortified Old Town (where I first went to school), timber, shipbuilding, chemical industries, football, and rock'n'roll (hence "Fredrikstad Rock City"). 

I grew up speaking Norwegian, but Norwegian is weird: I speak a highly distinctive low-class urban dialect, with heavy borderland, Swedish inflections.  My grandmother, from the opposite coast of Norway, swore she could never understand what I said, and eventually decided it must be because, really, I spoke Swedish. (For reference, my dialect is very much like a Norwegian equivalent of Sopranos-style New Jersey, Italian-American: try as I might to hide it, those nasal vowels will always betray me.)

I flailed about for a bit after high-school, before eventually getting pulled in by the sheer gravitational force of Norway's capital city of Oslo. There was really no way a kid like me could afford to move to the capital city except by enrolling at the University and taking on student loans to cover the rent. So that's what I did. After a couple of very half-hearted years of study where I was mostly engaged in the city's music scene, I eventually found myself sliding toward the study of philosophy. 

I rallied and completed a decent enough undergraduate degree in philosophy. Since I didn't know what else to do with myself, I applied to and was accepted into the University's MA program in philosophy. There, I was exceptionally fortunate to meet Bjørn Ramberg, who was visiting for a term but agreed to supervise my studies even from afar. I mention this not just because working with Bjørn gave me a sense of how one could be an academic philosopher but also be a perfectly functional human being, but also because of a certain irony: at the time, Bjørn was a professor at Simon Fraser University. Meanwhile, our ships crossed somewhere in the night of the Atlantic ocean: now he's back in Oslo, and I'm a professor at SFU.

Another stroke of luck: after completing my MA in 2000, I had to complete my "civil service" (in lieu of military service). I was able to do this at the absolutely exceptional Peace Research Institute, Oslo, where I got to spend two wonderful years absorbing important ideas from the empirical studies of peace and conflict, development, economics, etc. Even more, I got to work closely with two wonderful philosopher-persons, Henrik Syse and Greg Reichberg. Looking back, this period really drove home to me the idea that, to earn one's keep as a philosopher, one cannot hide under a rock but must remain open to interdisciplinary perspectives. Many good things came out of my work with Henrik and Greg, but in particular I note our publication, in 2006, of the comprehensive historical anthology on the Ethics of War.

More luck: by 2002, I was seriously debating my next steps. I was enormously surprised to be awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, which I was able to bring to the University of Pittsburgh to study for my PhD. Pitt was really an enormous culture-shock for me, but I was able to complete a dissertation in 2008, under the supervision of John McDowell. I then spent a year in sunny Southern California, teaching at Claremont-McKenna College, before I was awarded a three-year post-doctoral fellowship with the Norwegian Research Council. This period of sustained self-study made all the difference, allowing me to (re-)educate myself in the basics of linguistics, psychology, and  cognitive science. In 2012, I gratefully accepted an offer to become an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Simon Fraser University. And that's where I'm still at.

Outside of work and family, my main hobbies are napping and listening to music. I try to combine these hobbies as often as I can. But seriously, I've been obsessive about music for as long as I can remember, and I've collected records since I was a pre-schooler (the first record I bought was a Kiss 7" -- "Is that You?", from 1980). I currently maintain a much-too-large record collection (too large, at any rate, for Vancouver real-estate). Moreover, as much as I try to retain a healthy balance, I probably buy more records than I sell.

Long story, short: if philosophy sometimes gets you down, feel free to also talk to me about politics, history, language, literature, movies, immigrant identities, English football, or music. Or quite simply, talk to me about you. I love hearing about people.     


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