Vera Zolberg &
The New School for Social Research
Aristide R. Zolberg, the Walter A. Eberstadt Professor of Politics and University in Exile Professor Emeritus at the New School for Social Research, passed away on April 12, 2013 in New York City, after a long struggle with cancer, at the age of 81. A distinguished political scientist and one of world’s preeminent scholars of comparative politics, colonialism, nationalist movements and the decline of empires, he brought to bear his experience and education to the history of international migration, nationalism and ethnicity, and immigration policy in the Americas, Europe, Africa.
Born in Belgium to Polish Jewish parents, he was sheltered during WWII in a Flemish village and in a Catholic high school in Bruxelles. Though he and his mother survived, his father was lost in the holocaust. After the war, Ary was able to emigrate to the United States, where he lived with relatives until he graduated from high school, and then was admitted to Columbia College for his BA. Thereafter he studied in the African Studies Program at Boston University, and after serving in the American Army, earned the doctorate in Political Science at the University of Chicago. As a fellow in the Committee for the Study of New Nations, he benefited from its lively interdisciplinary ambience that colored his entire academic career. From his first position at the University of Wisconsin, he returned to the University of Chicago where he spent two decades, much of it as chair of the Political Science Department.
At the New School, where he was appointed Distinguished Professor of Political Science in 1983, he mentored several generations of students. Most importantly, he founded the International Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship of which he was director. Among his many publications, A Nation by Design, 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. The humanity and erudition he brought to his research, writing and teaching will be missed by countless colleagues, students and readers.