The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has awarded the Annual Medal in Social Sciences and Humanities to Prof Charles van Onselen from the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria. This prestigious award is conferred annually on a scholar who has made an outstanding contribution towards addressing some of the country’s most pressing social issues through his or her research and publications in any discipline and field in the social sciences and humanities.
Prof Van Onselen is a historian whose work encompasses a number of fields including historical studies, sociology, criminology and cultural studies. During his acceptance speech at the award ceremony earlier this month, Prof Van Onselen explained that the social science disciplines play a crucial role in determining how issues such as class, race, culture, and inequality can either help to bind us or divide us. According to him, the key to understanding these formidable and elusive interactions in society lies not so much in the natural or biological sciences, but rather in the core disciplines of the humanities and the social sciences.
Prof Van Onselen is the author of articles in leading international journals, as well as several books on southern African history. He holds a BSc and UED from Rhodes University, a BA Hons from the University of the Witwatersrand, a DPhil from Oxford University and a DLit (Honoris Causa) from Rhodes University. In 2000, 2007 and 2014 he was accorded an A rating by the National Research Foundation of South Africa for his work in the social sciences. Over the course of his career Prof Van Onselen has also been a Visiting Fellow and Visiting Professor at various universities in the USA, the UK and in Europe.