Academic Profile : Faculty

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Assoc Prof Els van Dongen
Associate Professor, School of Humanities
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Els van Dongen received her Ph.D. from the Department of Chinese Studies, Leiden University (the Netherlands). She obtained her M.A. and B.A. degrees from the Department of Chinese Studies, University of Leuven (Belgium), and a post-graduate degree in International Relations from the Department of Political Science, University of Leuven. Prior to joining NTU, she also studied and conducted research in China (Central China Normal University and Peking University), and the USA (Boston University). She completed her Ph.D. with the support of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Fulbright Foundation.

Els specializes in the study of modern and contemporary China from global and interdisciplinary perspectives. Her research broadly covers two main areas, namely Chinese intellectual history and knowledge circulation and Chinese migration and diaspora. Both areas are connected in that they reflect her core concern of how the transnational movement of people, ideas, and institutions has informed the making of modern and contemporary China. Methodologically, she combines textual analysis of a broad range of Chinese primary sources with interdisciplinary, regional, global, and comparative approaches developed from her training in Chinese Studies, history and International Relations.

Her first monograph, titled Realistic Revolution: Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), sheds light on intellectual debates on “radicalism” after the end of the Cold War through a transnational lens, connecting Chinese scholars across mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States. The book argues for the centrality of these interactions in our understanding of the largely overlooked “conservative” turn of the period 1989-1992, which profoundly shaped Chinese intellectual debates and the social identity of Chinese intellectuals today. Her second book project in progress, supported by a Tier 1 Grant, explores Chinese return migration during the 1950s in relation to the re-establishment of Jinan University in the PRC. The project aims to offer novel perspectives on Sino-Southeast Asian relations during the Cold War through unexplored political, institutional, and socio-cultural lenses.
Research Areas

Intellectual History of Modern China
• Contemporary Chinese Intellectuals and Knowledge Circulation
• Intellectual History and Historiography of Modern China

Chinese Migration and Diaspora
• History of Chinese Migration in Regional and Global Perspectives
• Comparative Migration and Diaspora Policies

For my publications, see:

See also my NTU Blog:

Teaching Areas

HH1003 Asia-Pacific in Global History: From 1800
HH3001 Historiography: Theory and Methods
HH3003 Migration and Diaspora: Chinese Experiences in Comparative Perspective
HH3015 In the Name of the Nation?: Nationalism in Asia
HH3021 Traitors, TV Stars, and Taboos: Representing History in Contemporary China
HH3043 The Cultural Revolution as History and Memory
HH4012 Intellectual History of Modern China
HH7090 Special Topics in History: Global Asia
  • The Specter of “Red” Return: Ethnic Chinese Students from Southeast Asia to Mainland China and the Regional Cold War, 1950s-1960s