Piet Konings

The long career of Piet Konings at the ASC (1978-2008) was marked by certain continuities and changes in his scientific work. One of the major continuities was his constant fascination with labour relations and trade-union activities in Africa, notably in Ghana and Cameroon. However, it must immediately be emphasised here that he never studies these issues in isolation, but he was rather inclined to place them in a wider socio-political and economic environment, especially in the context of global neo-liberal dominance. It has been a most gratifying experience to him to observe after his official retirement in 2008 that these issues have received renewed attention at the ASC and other national and international research institutes.

In the course of time he extended his interest in civil society from labour and trade unionism to other social groups and associations, including peasants and outgrowers, students and teachers, youth and gender, employers and managers, churches, elite and, most importantly ethno-regional organisations. He focused particularly  on the Anglophone movements in Cameroon which either called for the reintroduction of a federal state or outright secession.

Last, but not least, at the ASC he pioneered the first studies (in 2007) by staff on the (re)emerging relations between China and Africa.

Besides his scientific research and publications, he was also involved in various other activities. For a long time he was the secretary to the erstwhile ‘Afrika Werkgemeenschap’ and its WOTRO advisory committee. He occupied several managerial positions at the ASC: chairman of the former ‘ondernemingsraad’ and subsequently, during the period 1992-2000, head of department, theme group leader and deputy director. At a number of occasions he served as an advisor to government and some NGOs. He was and still continuous to be active in various editorial boards such as those of Langaa Publishers, Africa Development, Labor History, and ASC series at Brill. He also supervised a considerable number of Dutch, Ghanaian and Cameroonian PhD students and really enjoyed this undertaking. One of the highlights of his academic career was the organisation, together with Prof. Peter Geschiere and some Cameroonian counterparts, of two conferences on Cameroon, one in Leiden in 1988 and the other in Yaoundé in 1995, attended by a large number of experts from Cameroon, the Netherlands and other Western countries.

Honorary fellow
African Studies Centre
Expertise on: