In memoriam: Aristide Zolberg

Aristide R. Zolberg (1931-2013) served as Walter A. Eberstadt Professor of political science and historical studies at the New School for Social Research in New York City. He was born in Brussels in 1931, survived Nazi persecution, and emigrated to the United States in 1948, where he became self-supporting at age 16. His wife, sociologist Vera L. Zolberg, also taught at the New School until 2012. After attending Columbia University and Boston University, he served in the U.S. Army in 1955-56, and received his PhD in political science at the University of Chicago in 1961 with a specialization in African studies. He initially taught at the University of Wisconsin, then at the University of Chicago, and moved to the Graduate Faculty of the New School in New York in 1983. In between, he held visiting appointments at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (“Sciences Po”), the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and the College de France, all in Paris, as well as the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, the Salzburg Seminar, and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (Oslo).

A distinguished political scientist and one of world’s preeminent scholars of comparative politics, the history of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity, and immigration policy in North America and Western Europe, he served for many years as the founding director of the International Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship at The New School. He mentored and inspired several generations of colleagues and students at The New School. Among his publications are One-Party Government in the Ivory Coast (Princeton University Press, 1961; second edition, 1967), Creating Political Order: The Party-States of West Africa (1966; reprinted 1985); both were based on extensive field work in sub-Saharan Africa. After a decade of African research, he broadened his scope to the study of ethnic conflict, state-formation, and international migration; the results include Escape from Violence: The Refugee Crisis in the Developing World, co-authored with Astri Suhrke and Sergio Aguayo (1989), and a collection of essays, How Many Exceptionalisms? Explorations in Comparative Macroanalysis (Temple University Press, 2008). His book, A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; and Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 2006),  will remain one of the most authoritative accounts of immigration history in the United States and a compelling story of how immigration shaped this country.

From 1983 to 1991, he held the University-in-Exile Chair established by the City of Berlin at the Graduate Faculty of the New School. In 1981, the French government awarded him the Palmes Académiques in recognition of distinguished service to French Higher Education. In 2008, he was attributed the “distinguished scholar” award from the Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Studies section of the International Studies Association.

Ary’s humanity and erudition will be missed by countless colleagues, students, and readers.

 


Memories of Ary Zolberg

The New School

New York Times Obituary

John Torpey, Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center

Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center

Jeffrey Goldfarb, The New School for Social Research

Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia University

Michael Cohen, The New School

Riva Kastoryano, Sciences Po

Jon Soske, McGill University

Irene Bloemraad, University of California, Berkeley

Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, director of research at CNRS (CERI, Sciences-Po)
Aristide Zolberg was for me a professor, a colleague and a friend. He brought a lot to me, namely for my Ph D because he was one of the first Political scientist to deal with migration studies. I was really enthusiastic of his approaches mixing internal and external political orders, linking theory and field research. He was very wellknown in France too, due to his perfect knowledge of french oral but also written language, a rare quality for foreigners to be able to write in academic reviews in French. He was a member of my PH D in Sciences-Po, in 1986. He welcomed me in New York  as a lot of researchers comparing Europe and the US experiences of migration. I was with him when he was stroken by a heart attack in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, on january 2005. His final book, published in 2006 (A nation by design) was the coronation of all a life of research on the US and immigration. Moreover, he was a marvellous friend, in conferences and travels abroad with always a humouristic view of many situations which he also applied to himself. He was quite a member of my family and of all families of researchers close to him because he was fond of french sociability, opera, streets in Paris, and other French discoveries. The last time I was with him  and his wife vera was in Paris on 5th July 2012, but he was already weak. Perhaps he knew that it was his last stay in Paris where he loved so to be.. I miss him because I lost a colleague and a friend.

Terri Givens, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin
I still use Ari’s article “Why Islam is Like Spanish” in my courses on immigration politics, and his recent book has been an invaluable resource.  I feel privileged to have known him, he was a wonderful colleague and a trailblazer in the field of migration studies. 

 

From The New York Times Obituary Guest Book:

May 11, 2013
I remember Ari for all the excellent reasons listed in this obituary. Most of all, though, I will remember Ari and Vera (who I hope still to see) as friends during many years. Their home in NY often was a home to me when I was coming through the city. It was a place of good times, and also a place of serious intellectual exchange and learning. My field has been related to refugees, an area of more than professional interest to Ari. We did not actually work together, but it felt that way often. I let too many years go by without visiting, partly because I knew Ari was ill with limited energy for multiple visitors. Now I regret so very much that there is no more time. Vera, you are still there and perhaps you may want to renew the conversations we once had. I hope that will happen.
Patricia Fagen
Patricia
~
Patricia Fagen,
Washington, District of Columbia

May 10, 2013
When Ari Zolberg was honoured at the International Studies Associations, I was asked to speak on the panel on his work. It was totally my privilege. I lost count of the number of times I cited his writings; the occasion provided an opportunity to summarize my intellectual indebtedness. But Ari was not only a fine scholar and a mentor for many, but someone who went out of his way to assist fellow scholars, offer advice and even organize seminars as he did when Astri Suhrke and I presented our first draft of our study on the involvement of bystander states and agencies in the Rwandan genocide. He offered his help always with humour and graciousness and loved to host and participate in a great discussion around wine and food. He was a humanitarian with a brain and a scholar with a heart but one who never forgot he also had a fine nose and discerning taste buds.
~
Howard Adelman,
Toronto, Ontario

May 09, 2013
It was truly a privilege to work with Ary for so many years. Ary was wise – and fun. I am enormously indebted to him, and to Vera for being a gracious host on so many occasions.
~
Astri Suhrke,
Bergen, Norway

April 29, 2013
I am deeply indebted to Ary. I first met him as a graduate student when he visited UCLA. He took the time to buy me a coffee and share his thoughts on my dissertation proposal. Every subsequent meeting was a personal and intellectual delight. His path-breaking work on the politics of international migration continue to shape my own research and a community of scholars across the globe. His passion and generosity will be missed.
~
David FitzGerald,
San Diego, California

April 25, 2013
I was deeply saddened to learn of Ari’s passing. I consider myself privileged to have been able to study with him at the University of Chicago in the early 1970’s. His intellectual and professional influence on me was profound and highly beneficial. But I will also never forget how he and the entire family – Vera, Erica, Dan – related to us as human beings by inviting us into their home, going to movies with us, attending our parties, and all the rest from those great days. Please accept my sincere condolences.
~
Marty Farrell,
Ripon, Wisconsin

April 23, 2013
His sharp intellect, his decency and his sense of humor will be missed. The last time I saw Ary at a conference at Tufts, he told us the story of his first date with Vera, which remains one of my favorite memories. Sending every warm thought!
~
Van Tran,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

April 23, 2013
My deepest condolences to you and your family. We all lost a great scholar.
~
Francois Avenas,
El Paso, Texas

April 22, 2013
Ari Zolberg was an inspiration for all of us working on labor flows globally. A rare reservoir of transcontinental knowledge—from Africa to Asia to North America—he knew the flows, he knew the states, and he knew them in depth. While we miss him dearly, he lives amongst us through his writings.
A toast to our intellectual guide, and a warm mentor and friend.
~
Kamal Sadiq,
Irvine, California

April 22, 2013
Ari was a passionate thinker who offered us some major insights into political and social life and who lived his life to fullest in every respect. As my PhD supervisor he pushed me to a high level of intellectual development, all the while nurturing whatever originality I had to offer at the time. As a small testament to his deep humanity he was more than a mentor: he became a friend. I will never stop thinking of him and will always keep his superb work before me.

————————————-
Robert Latham
~
Robert Latham,
Toronto, Ontario

April 20, 2013
Dear Vera, Erika, Dan and families,
Ari was as brave and humble through this last struggle, as he was in life. I remain in awe.
His passing is a major loss for our world, and I only hope that you and the family take solace in the gifts you shared together. Your grandchildren are the testimony to it all. I hope they will know how truly amazing Ary was. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience his greatness, as a student, colleague, and friend. He is already missed terribly. With love to you all, Gallya
~
Gallya,
Tel-Aviv

April 20, 2013
As neighbors, we will fondly remember our wonderful dinners with the Zolbergs over the past few years. Good food, wine & company. Ary will be missed but not forgotten.
~
Gary/Linda/Matthew Tonda,
NYC, New York

April 19, 2013
Dear Vera,

My condolences to you and your family. Ari was my supervisor at New School and i greatly admired his humor and his down to earth intellectual attitude. His historical institutionalist take on migration and integration processes has shaped my ideas up until today: a wonderful man!
~
Rosemarie van den Breemer,
Oslo

April 19, 2013
Dear Vera, Erica and Dan,

Please know that our thoughts are with you at this sad time. Ary enriched our lives and will always have a cherished place in our memory.

Warmly,
~
Barbara and Martin Heisler,
Lake Oswego, Oregon

April 19, 2013
I am deeply saddened to hear of Ari’s passing. I served as his research assistant my first year as a graduate student at the New School, and had the pleasure of chatting with him on a range of subjects. Ari was not only an impressive professor, but also a kind person who encouraged me when I felt doubts about my place in academia, and treated me as a colleague rather than just as a student. I feel fortunate to have known him. My sincere condolences to his loved ones. Ari will be missed.
~
Yannet Lathrop,
Lansing, Michigan

April 19, 2013
We loved Ari and delighted in parrying ideas with him. His stories of his youth in Europe are unforgettable, so vivid in my mind that they seemed to have been told to me by a close relative, as a part of my own history.
~
Elizabeth Sanders,
Ithaca, New York

April 18, 2013
My sincere condolences.
~
Angelica Domato,
Montreal, Quebec

April 18, 2013
Dear Vera,
We are very sorry we are unable to visit with you during these days when you are sitting with friends and family. Susan has gone back to work and I will be traveling. But we are thinking of you and of Ari, and will hope to be there for the memorial service whenever it is organized.
~
Susan and Sid Tarrow,
Ihaca, New York

April 18, 2013

Dear Vera, Erica and Dan,

Please accept our sincere and heartfelt condolences.

I am deeply grateful to have had Ary as a mentor and friend. Always leading by example, Ary taught me the importance of intellectual dedication and personal kindness and generosity. Ary was a formidable thinker, a loyal and committed mentor, and a genuinely good person. I am thankful for the many good memories, including a celebratory breakfast in Chinatown after my thesis defense and a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum a few years later, during which Ary’s commentary on dinosaurs convinced our son Niko that he must be a paleontologist.

We wish you strength and courage and have you in our thoughts. We will miss Ary dearly.

With love,
Phil, Mary, Anastasia and Niko Triadafilopoulos

April 17, 2013
Dear Vera,
so sorry to learn of your loss. My thoughts are with you at this time. A Hunter alumna,Florence Cohen Sacks
~
Florence Sacks,
Redondo Beach, California

April 17, 2013
Dear Vera,
My sincere condolences to you and your family. The loss of Ari must be very hard for all of you. As you can see from this guest book, you have the sympathy of all who have met Ari at some point in life and come to appreciate him very much as an eminent and inspiring scholar and as a warm and caring person. He will live on in our memories in different ways. I will never forget how he included me both academically and on a personal level when I came as a graduate student to the University of Chicago more than thirty years ago to learn from him. I will also remember the last time I was so fortunate to get the opportunity to spend some time with Ari, here in Oslo in 2011. He was an extraordinary person in so many ways.
~
Espen Thorud,
Oslo, Norway

April 17, 2013
My thoughts are with Ari´s family and loved ones. I will always remember him as a great teacher, scholar and person – and as my Doktorvater.
~
Tatiana Matthiesen,
Hamburg

April 17, 2013
My thoughts are with Ari’s family and loved ones. I will always remember him as a great teacher, scholar and person – and as my Doktorvater.
~
Tatiana Matthiesen,
Hamburg – Germany

April 17, 2013
Great prof and mentor
~
Dwayne Woods,
Chicago, Illinois

April 17, 2013

Ari was a colleeague and a friend. He was one of the first political scientist to propose a theoretical approach on migration.As a friend of France he was very wellknown there, being able to give oral and written communications in French. He helped a lot of researchers and students to develop their research thanks to his high sociability, friendship and as a lover of french culture. His last book, A nation by design on immigration in the US is a result of years of research and analysis. Congratulations, Ari and thanks for all. Catherine Wihtol de Wenden (CNRS, Paris)
~
Wihtol de Wenden Catherine,
Paris

April 17, 2013
Ari: tu nous a tant inspiré. Tu vas nous manquer. i was glad that I met you as a graduate student and you were so inspirational to so many. Mon amitié à Vera et à la famille.
~
Virginie Guiraudon,
Paris

April 16, 2013
Ari possessed a rare blend of brilliance and grace. His generous spirit, warmth and humanity touched us deeply. In our memories we hold the joy of sitting at your abundant table sharing stories and conversation. We are enriched by your friendship. Vera, Erica, Dan and family we offer our deepest condolences.
~
Renee Rockoff, Michael Kirk,
New York, New York

April 16, 2013
My sympathies and prayers with Ari’s loved ones today. I see Irene’s post and think exactly the same–though an unknown graduate student to him, Ari agreed to chair a panel I put together and to comment extensively on my work. Wonderful mentorship that will forever be remembered.
~
Helen Marrow,
Medford, Massachusetts

April 16, 2013
Thanks to such a wonderful scholar and light in our field. My thoughts and prayers for his family and loved ones.
~
Helen Marrow,
Medford, Massachusetts

April 16, 2013
Ari – Full of love, humor, intelligence and humanity. So glad and fortunate that I got to know him. We will miss him and will try to stay close to dear Vera.
~
Michael Frenchman,
New York, New York

April 16, 2013
I had the great honor of being one of Prof. Zolberg’s students during my MA years. I always regarded him as the brand of academic I should strive to become. After all these years, I still do. One of my fondest memories of him is from the day classes at The New School resumed after 9/11, when he encouraged us to seek help if we needed it to cope with that tragedy.

I am certain that this is a huge loss for The New School and even more so for his wife. Yet his legacy will endure in the scholarship he bequeaths us, in ICMEC, and in those of us who have had the chance of having him as a professor.
~
Luis F. Clemente,
Athens, Ohio

April 16, 2013
so sad to hear he passed away.. as i still cannot erase from my memory how tough but also how fragile he was when in paris when his accident happened…
so dear Vera, it is going to be difficult to live without him, as he was such a great presence to us all..
we are deeply affected by this sad news and are sending you our warmest affections in this difficult moment
~
Yolande Cohen Marcel Fournier,
Montréal, Quebec

April 16, 2013
Ari was an exceptional man:very smart and knowledgeable, funny, a great storyteller, generous and with a zest for life. I feel deeply honored and grateful to have studied under him and to have worked with him. I will miss him dearly and remember him fondly.
My deepest condolences to Vera, Erica and Dan and their families.
~
Litt Woon Long,
Oslo, Norway

April 16, 2013
This us a great loss for us, Ari’s cousins in Israel. Ari was the most warm, bright, thogutful, smart, intelligent, kind and friendly person I have ever met. There is no one to be compared to his wonderfull personality.
Every moment in his company is unforgotten. I am lucky and honored to be his cousin. His memory will stay with us forever
~
Gaby Nussbaum,
Tel Aviv, Israel

April 16, 2013
Vera,

Ari was a great teacher and mentor. He will be missed by many.
~
Tom Gold,
Forest Hills, New York

April 16, 2013
I hope I can celebrate Ary’s memory by repeating his kindness and generosity to me: reaching out to an unknown grad student, commenting on her work, and treating her as a welcome interlocuteur. One part of a wonderful legacy that keeps his spirit among us.
~
Irene Bloemraad,
Berkeley, California

April 15, 2013
Such a kind, funny, smart and charming man. He told great stories, he had great compassion and knowledge. I was so privileged to know him. My deep sympathy to his family and friends.
~
Mary Waters,
Cambridge, Massachusetts

April 15, 2013
Dear Vera:

I know they’re clichés, but Ary really was a towering intellect and larger-than-life figure. Like other friends and colleagues, I will miss his intellectual vitality, his warmth, his humor, and his enormous zest for life. All my sympathy to you – and your children and grandchildren.
~
Nancy Foner,
New York

April 15, 2013
Dear Vera:

I know they’re clichés, but Ary really was a towering intellect and larger-than-life figure. Like other friends and colleagues, I will miss his intellectual vitality, his warmth, his humor, and his enormous zest for life. All my sympathy to you – and your children and grandchildren.
~
Nancy Foner,
New York

April 15, 2013
Condolences to the family. I felt privileged to know him, he was a great colleague and truly a great man. He will be missed.
~
Terri Givens,
Austin, Texas

April 15, 2013
My condolences to his family. He was an unforgetable person, a wonderful professor, and an amazing human being. He will be missed.

Rossana Reis
Universidade de São Paulo
~
Rossana Reis,
Sao Paulo

April 15, 2013
We lost a great friend and scholar. I am proud to be one of the students of Ari. His legacy still lives on.

Karl Botchway

April 15, 2013
I am so grateful I had the privilege to be Ary’s student – to learn from him, work with him, and to know him. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be truly missed.
~
Myra Waterbury,
Athens, Ohio

April 15, 2013
Dear Verra,

We both lost a great man. Best wishes
Behrooz Moazami
~
Behrooz Moazami,
New Orleans, Louisiana

April 15, 2013
Ary lived a remarkable life. The world is poorer today without him in it. My thoughts are with Vera and their children.

April 15, 2013
Dear Vera,
I’m so sorry to hear of Ari’s death. I’m thankful that I got a chance to see you both last year when I spoke at the New School. Ari was truly one of a kind. We’ll all miss him.
Bill
~
Bill Sewell,
Chicago, Illinois

April 15, 2013
Erica,
I was sorry to learn of your father’s passing. He was among the brightest stars in the great Class of 1953. My thoughts are with you and your family.
~
Ken Catandella,
New York

April 15, 2013
My condolences to Professor Zolberg’s family and friends. He was always supportive with students and a person of unusual human quality. He will be remembered.
~
Claudia Heiss,
Santiago de Chile

April 15, 2013
An immense loss for his many friends and colleagues.
~
Richard Alba,
Brooklyn, New York

April 15, 2013
Ari was more than a teacher, more than a mentor. He was a friend, a guide, and an intellectual comrade. He taught me, and countless others, how to think and perhaps how to live a little better as well.
His impact on my work – on my life – was immeasurable, as is our collective loss.
~
Patrick Hossay,
Galloway, New Jersey

April 15, 2013
Very sorry to hear the sad news. My deepest condolences to Vera and the family.
~
Heshan Berents-Weeramuni,
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

April 15, 2013
Thanks so much Ari. You were a mentor and a friend. You will be missed by all your students. Love to Vera and the family.
~
Andrew Grossman,
Marshall, Michigan

April 15, 2013
My condolences to to Vera and Ari’s family. He was my adviser at the New School and introduced me to a world of complex issues (migration,refugees, nationalism) in which I am still immersed in today. The world has lost a special and unique soul and I am very saddened by his passing.
~
Ina Breuer,
Cambridge, Massachusetts