Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Asst Prof Van Dongen Els

Assistant Professor, School of Humanities

Asst Prof Van Dongen Els

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 aims to write intellectual histories in which history and transnational concerns take center stage. Firstly, she is interested in how changing historical conditions affect the organization of knowledge, particularly through the lens of conceptual history and “-isms” (zhuyi) in China. In her book Realistic Revolution: Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), she analyzes the reception of “-isms” in post-1989 China and how this intersects with the rewriting of history, attempts to reorganize knowledge, and efforts to redefine the role of intellectuals. Secondly, she is interested in historiographical practices and the role of history and foreign theory in Chinese public debate, especially in a post-socialist environment. Branching out from this, she has also investigated changing meanings of nationalism in China and India from the angle of the interconnection between diaspora policies, discursive forms of diaspora engagement, and conceptions of the nation. This ties in with her second main area of research, namely Chinese migration and diaspora. In her current research project, based on a Tier 1 Grant, she looks at the role of educational institutions for Chinese overseas students in cultural diplomacy efforts in the PRC during the Cold War.
Research Interests
Research Areas

Chinese intellectuals
Intellectual debates in reform China (post-1978)
Conceptual history and knowledge circulation
Twentieth-century Chinese historiography
Intellectual history of modern China

Chinese diaspora and migration
Diaspora policies and nationalism
Education of returned overseas Chinese during the Cold War
Universities for Chinese overseas in the PRC during the reform period (post-1978)

For my publications, see:

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
Current Projects
  • Education Diplomacy and Soft Power: De-centering Diaspora Policies in the People's Republic of China
Selected Publications
  • van Dongen, Els. (2020). The Specter of Failed Transition: Tocqueville and the Reception of Liberalism in Reform China. Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville, 41(1), 253-279.
  • van Dongen, Els. (2019). Realistic Revolution: Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989. Cambridge University Press.
  • van Dongen, Els. (2018). Localizing Ethnic Entrepreneurship: 'Chinese' Chips Shops in Belgium, 'Traditional' Food Culture, and Transnational Migration in Europe. Ethnic and Racial Studies, Online first(Nov 2018), 1-19.
  • van Dongen, Els.(2018). Entangled Loyalties: Qiaopi, Chinese Community Structures, and the State in Southeast Asia. The Qiaopi Trade and Transnational Networks in the Chinese Diaspora(Chapter 1). London: Routledge.
  • van Dongen, Els.(2017). “Confucianism, Community, Capitalism: Chen Lai and the Spirit of Max Weber". In Hon Tze-ki and Kristin Stapleton(Ed), Confucianism for the Contemporary World: Global Order, Political Plurality, and Social Action(19-44). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

« Back to Research Directory