Dr. Gijsbert Oonk

If you don’t know the past, you get lost in the future

Gijsbert Oonk (1966) is a Global Historian whose research and teaching activities are in the field of Global History, especially African and Indian History, Migration, Citizenship, Capitalism and Inequality, and Sport.

Research Excellence Initiative

Gijsbert Oonk is project leader of a new research project on History, Sport and Nation that has been awarded a prestigious Research Excellence Initiative (REI) grant of €417,000. This interdisciplinary research project is titled 'Sport and National Identity: Changing Citizenship and the Global Battle for Talent'. The grant solidifies interdisciplinary collaboration between three departments: the Department of History and the Department of Media and Communication as well as the Department of Sociology contribute to this new and innovative project.

Current projects

For the ESHCC a new project has started: The Global Citizenship Competitions. This focuses on the history of changing citizenship in the context of sport and history (soccer and the Olympics)

For the Indian Ocean World Centre he will work on two projects:

  • The history of the cholera epidemics in Western Indian Ocean in the 19th century.
  • The Emergence of German Rupee in East Africa

Current positions

Gijsbert Oonk  is Associate Professor of African and South Asian History at ESHCC. He is honorary research affiliate of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. In addition he is research associate for the Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University, Montreal Canada. He served as Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London in 2014 and 2015. In 2011-2012 he was the Alfred D. Chandler Jr. International Visiting Fellow in Business History at the Harvard Business School (Boston).

Earlier research and publications

In his earlier research Oonk was in interested in the role of South Asian (Indian) migrants and settlers in East Africa. He finalized his research project with a monograph: Settled Strangers: Asian Business Elites in East Africa 1800-2000 (Sage Publication 2013). This research has been funded by the Dutch Foundation of Tropical research (WOTRO/NWO). He also published a widely acclaimed biography of the South Asian business family Karimjee Jivanjee. The Karimjee Jivanjee Family: Merchant Princes of East Africa, 1800-2000, Amsterdam: Pallas publications 2009). He has received his Ph-D in non-western history at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1998: Ondernemers in ontwikkeling. Fabrieken en fabrikanten in de Indiase katoenin­dustrie, 1850-1930, [Entrepreneurs in Development. Mills and Millowners in the Indian Cotton Textile Industry (Hilversum 1998)]. He also edited the book Global Indian Diasporas: Exploring Trajectories of Migration and Theory (Amsterdam University Press, 2007). In this volume the contributors critically review the concept of diaspora. This volume is free available as an open access publication.