Gijsbert Oonk

1966 –
non-western history, business, migration and economic history
South Asian migrants and settlers in East Africa

Curriculum vitae

1992MA in non-western history, Erasmus University Rotterdam
1998PhD under the supervision of H.W. van Schendel, Erasmus Universtiy Rotterdam
1998-2008assistant professor non-western history, Erasmus University Rotterdam
2001-2005senior research-fellow of the Dutch Foundation of Tropical Research (WOTRO)
2008-?associate professor non-western history, Erasmus University Rotterdam
2009management of Professional Organisations, at the centre of Academic Leadership, Training and Coaching
2011-presenthead of the Department of History at the ESHCC (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication), Rotterdam
2011-presentassociate professor in African and South Asian history at the ESHCC

Special activities and positions

  • Organizer, with A. de Haan, of the international workshop in Calcutta “Labour and Industries,” 1996
  • Supervisor of the “Asians in Africa” team, 2001-2002
  • Member and, from 2006 to 2010, chairman of the ‘faculteitsraad’, 2004-2010
  • Initiator and manager of the international conference “South Asians in Diasporas,” 2005
  • Member of the organizing committee of the 19th European Conference of Modern South Asian Studies, Leiden 2006, 2005-2006
  • Co-editor of the Journal of Economic and Social history of the Orient (JESHO), 2011
  • Co-initiator and co-organizer of the international conference “The Migrant’s Miracle” at Jawarlal Nehru University, Delhi, India, 2011
  • Alfred D. Chandler Jr. International Visiting Fellow in Business History at the Harvard Business School (Boston), 2011-2012
  • Editor Geschiedenis Magazine, 2008-present



Some articles on global history are not included.
1996 & A. de Haan, review of: R. Chandavarkar, The origins of industrial capitalism in India: business strategies and the working classes in Bombay, 1900-1940, OUP 1995. The Journal of Entrepreneurship in India 2: 136-138.
1998 Ondernemers in ontwikkeling: fabrieken en fabrikanten in de Indiase katoenindustrie, 1850-1930, Hilversum: Verloren. – PhD thesis Erasmus University Rotterdam.
& U. Bosma, “Bombay-Batavia: Parsi and Indo-European variations in mediating 1800-1947.” In: N. Randeraad (ed.), Mediators between state and society in comparative perspective, Hilversum, pp. 17-40.
Review of: P. Gorter, Small industries, big ambitions, Cambridge 1997. The Indian Economic and Social History Review 35,2: 216-219.
Review of: C. Dobbin, Asian entrepreneurial minorities, Curzon 1996. Contemporary South Asia 7,2: 217-218.
1999 “De armoede van Landes over de rijkdom van India.” Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 25,1: 78-87.
Review of: H. Schwarz, Writing cultural history in colonial and postcolonial India, University of Pennsylvania Press 1997. Contemporay South Asia 8,1: 112-113.
Review of: S. Arasaratnam, Maritime commerce and English power: Southeast India 1750-1800, New Delhi: Sterlin 1996. Contemporary South Asia 8,2: 223-224.
Review of: Parama Roy, Indian traffic: identities in question in colonial and postcolonial India, California University press 1998. Contemporary South Asia 8,2: 260-261.
Review of: Janaki Nair, Miners and millhands: work and politics in princely Mysore, New Delhi: Thousand Oaks-London: Sage. Contemporary South Asia 8,3: 399-400.
2000 Review of: A. Appadurai, Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization, University of Minnesota Press 1996. Journal of World History 11,1: 157-159.
Review of: Richard C. Foltz, Mughal India and Central Asia, Oxford University Press 1998. Contemporary South Asia 9,1: 88.
Review of: Debdas Banerjee, Colonialism in action: trade development and dependence in late colonial India, Londen: Hyberabad Sangam Books. Contemporary South Asia 9,3: 369-370
Review of: Shompa Lahiri, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian encounters, race and identity, 1880-1930, London: Frank Cass Publishers. Contemporary South Asia 9,4: 383-384.
2001 “Motor or millstone? The managing agency system in Bombay and Ahmedabad, 1850-1930.” Indian Economic Social History Review 2001,4: 419-452.
Review of: Clare Anderson, Convicts in the Indian Ocean: transportation from South Asia to Mauritius, 1815-1853, London-New York 2000. Contemporary South Asia 10,2.
2002 Review of: John Tomlinson, Globalization and culture, Oxford 1999; and of: Birgit Meyer and Peter Geschiere, Globalization and identity: dialects of flow and closure, Oxford and Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1999. Journal of World History 13,2: 532-537.
Review of: Claude Markovits, The global world of Indian merchants, 1750-1947: traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama, Cambridge University Press 2000. Neha-bulletin 16,1: 39-40.
2004 Asians in East Africa: images pictures and portraits, SCA producties.
“The changing culture of the Hindu Lohana community in East Africa.” Contemporary Asian Studies, 13,1: 7-23.
“After shaking his hand, start counting your fingers: trust and images in Indian business networks, East Africa 1900-2000.” Itinerario 18,3: 70-88.
2005 “Gujarati business communities in East Africa: success and failure stories.” EPW 40,20: 2077-2082.
2006 “South Asians in East Africa (1880-1920) with a particular focus on Zanzibar: towards a historical explanation of economic success of a middlemen minority.” Journal of African and Asian Studies 5,1: 57-89.
“South Asians in East Africa.” Contribution in: P. Reeves, Brij Lal and Rajesh Rai (eds), The Encyclopaedia of the Indian Diaspora , Singapore: Éditions Didier Millet, pp. 254-262.
“Exotisch Hollywood: verbeelding van andere culturen in recente films van Jaap van Ginneken.” Tijdschrift voor mediageschiedenis 9,2: 121-122.
2007 Editor of: Global Indian diasporas: exploring trajectories of migration and theory, Amsterdam University Press.
“After shaking his hand, start counting your fingers: trust and images in Indian business networks, East Africa 1900-2000.” Republished in: Geoffrey Jones and Dan Wadhwani, Entrepreneurship and global capitalism, Edward Elgar Press, pp. 225- 247.
“Global Indian diasporas: exploring trajectories of migration and theory.” Introduction in: G. Oonk (ed.), Global Indian diasporas: exploring trajectories of migration and theory, Amsterdam University Press, pp. 9-27.
“We lost our gift of expression: loss of the mother tongue among Indians in East Africa, 1880-2000.” In: Ibidem, pp. 31-67.
“Industrialisation in India, 1850-1947: three variations in the emergence of indigenous industrialists.” In: Nasreen Taher and Swapna Gopalan (eds), Business communities of India, the ICFAI University Press Hyderabad, pp. 117-156.
Review of: The business of empire: the East Indian Company of Imperial Britain, 1756-1833, Cambridge University Press. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis (1) 2007, 136-137.
Review of: Judith Brown, Global South Asians, introducing modern diasporas, Cambridge University Press, 2006; and of: Brij V. Lal (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of the Indian Diaspora, Singapore: Didier Millet, 2006. Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient 50,4: 577-579.
2008 “Negotiating Hinduism in East Africa, 1860-1960.” Transforming Cultures eJournal 3,2: 93-123.
“Communal business families in India, 1850-1947: three patterns in the emergence of indigenous industrialists.” In: Vipin Gupta (ed.), Cultural-sensitive models of family business in Southern Asia: a compendium using the GLOBE paradigm, Hyderabad: the Icfai University Press, pp. 48-67.
Review “Zoektocht naar de waarheid over India,” duo recension of: Crispin Bates, Subalterns and the Raj: South Asia since 1600, Routledge 2007); and of: Peter Rietbergen, Europa’s India, Nijmegen: Vantilt, 2007. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 3: 343-345.
2009 The Karimjee Jivanjee family: merchant princes of East Africa, 1800-2000, Amsterdam University Press, Pallas.
2010 & Martijn Lieshout, “De verscheidenheid van India hoeft geen bedreiging te zijn.” Geschiedenis Magazine 6: 26-28.
2011 “Clothing matters: Asian-African businessmen in European suits, 1880-1980.” Comparative Sociology 10: 528-547.
2013 Settled strangers: the emergence of a transnational Asian African trading elite, 1800-2000, New Delhi: Sage Publishers.
“South Asians in East Africa, 1800-2000: an entrepreneurial minority caught in a ‘Catch-22’.” Tijdschrift voor Sociaal Economische Geschiedenis 10,2: 59-81.
2014 “The emergence of indigenous industrialists in Calcutta, Bombay, and Ahmedabad, 1850-1947.” Business History Review 88,1: 43-71.
2015 “Gujarati Asians in East Africa, 1880–2000: colonization, de-colonization and complex citizenship issues.” Diaspora Studies 8,1: 66-79.