Professor Michael Ondaatje

Deputy Director

Michael Ondaatje

Areas of expertise: African-American History; History of American Conservatism

Phone: +612 9739 2389


Location: ACU North Sydney campus

Michael Ondaatje is Deputy Director of the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. His research is focused on American political and intellectual history, with a particular interest in the history of black conservatism in the United States. Awarded his PhD, with Distinction, by the University of Western Australia in 2008, Michael is an award-winning researcher and teacher and a regular commentator on US history and politics in the Australian and international media. He has been a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and was selected by the US Embassy in Australia for the International Visitor Leadership Program, the premier professional exchange program of the US government. Previously awarded the Max Crawford Medal for ‘outstanding scholarly achievement’ by the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Michael has recently commenced work on two new research projects. The first of these projects focuses on a subject that has received little attention in the literature on the civil rights movement – conservative black opposition to the movement during the 1950s and 1960s. The second project brings Michael’s interest in race and conservatism into the Australian context and is a political biography of Neville Bonner, the first Indigenous Australian to sit in the federal parliament.

Select publications

  • Ondaatje, L. (2010) Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


  • Black Conservatism and Civil Rights in the United States
  • Political Biography of Neville Bonner

Accolades and awards

  • International Visitor Leadership Program, US State Department (2013)
  • Max Crawford Medal (2012)
  • High Commendation - W.K. Hancock Prize, Australian Historical Association (2012)
  • Researcher-in-Residence Fellowship, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney (2012)
  • Senior Visiting Research Fellowship, University of Oxford (2011)
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence, University of Newcastle (2011)
  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council Award for Teaching Excellence (2011)
  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2010)
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Newcastle (2010)
  • Faculty of Education and Arts Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Newcastle (2009)
  • Robert Street Prize, University of Western Australia (2008)
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award (Early-Career), University of Western Australia (2007)

Appointments and affiliations

  • 2020-Present: Deputy Director, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU
  • 2019-2020: Pro Vice-Chancellor (Arts and Academic Culture), ACU
  • 2014-2019: National Head of Arts, ACU


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