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Michael Ondaatje

Professor of History & Head of the National School of Arts, Australian Catholic University

Michael Ondaatje is National Head of Arts, and Professor of History at the Australian Catholic University.

Michael was awarded his PhD with Distinction from the University of Western Australia in 2008. His thesis on African American conservatism was recognised with the Robert Street Prize for the most outstanding PhD across all of the University’s disciplines. In 2010 Michael's first book, Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America, was a Top 20 bestseller in US history. In 2011 the book was recognised with the Newcastle Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence, and in 2012 was shortlisted for the Australian Historical Association’s (AHA) Hancock Prize.

Michael has been a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University. In 2012 the Australian Academy of the Humanities awarded him the Max Crawford Medal, ‘Australia’s most prestigious award for achievement and promise in the humanities’. The Crawford Medal is ‘granted to early career researchers for outstanding scholarly achievement in the humanities in Australia, and to those whose publications make an exceptional contribution to the understanding of humanities disciplines by the general public’. Michael is also the winner of several teaching awards at the national and university level, and has supervised more than twenty Honours and PhD theses to completion.

A regular media commentator on US politics, Michael has been interviewed on more than 200 occasions on television and radio since 2008. He has appeared on the ABC, Channel Ten, Sky News, Sky Business, 2GB (Sydney), Monocle 24 (United Kingdom), and on a number of stations in the United States. Michael's writing has appeared in the Australian Financial Review, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age (online), the Canberra Times (online), the Newcastle Herald, The Conversation, the Chronicle of Higher Education (US), and the New Matilda. Michael has also delivered a large number of public lectures, including the Annual Human Rights Day Address at the United Nations Association of Australia.

In 2013 Michael was selected by the US Embassy in Australia for the International Visitor Leadership Program, the premier professional exchange program of the US government.


  • 2014–present
    Associate Professor of History, Australian Catholic University


  • 2008 
    University of Western Australia, PhD (Distinction)
  • 2001 
    University of Western Australia, BA (Hons - 1st Class)
  • North Sydney, Australia
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