Preface

In: Borderlands Biography
Author:
Kathleen (Kathy) Staudt Professor Emerita of Political Science University of Texas at El Paso

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It is a great honor for me to be asked to write this preface about my colleague and friend, Dr. Z. Anthony Kruszewski, better yet, “Tony” Kruszewski as people know him in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Like many others, I have learned much from him and have been inspired by his courageous life of the intellect and of action.

In 1977, I first met Tony, chairman of the political science department, when I applied for an academic position at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), in the heart of the central borderlands of the United States and Mexico, of the more-than two million residents of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. He met me at the airport gate, back in the days when those meeting travelers could go inside the airport to the arrival gates. By phone, I had asked him how I would recognize him; his answer was: my bushy eyebrows! Sure enough, I recognized Tony immediately. Soon I would meet Tony and June who together opened their home to lovely gatherings so that faculty members in the political science department could get to know one another on more informal bases.

Dr. Kruszewski is and was a fine professor who enjoyed teaching. The students loved him and remember his lectures. He had and continues to have a photographic memory of the books he has read, his experiences in various countries, and his international travels. He inspired students with his many stories about World War II and the Polish resistance movement in which he participated. His specializations within the discipline of political science consisted of international relations and comparative politics. Tony also taught area-studies courses, including first Soviet then Russian Politics along with European Politics. He and I both taught the Political Geography course, an underdeveloped field in the U.S., whether in elementary, secondary, or university level curricula. We both love maps and insisted that students learn country names, locations, and the political geographic challenges faced in multiple historical and contemporary contexts.

A border-crosser par excellence in his personal and intellectual life, Tony became one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of border studies and its professional arm for annual conferences, the Association of Borderlands Studies (ABS) in the 1970s. The field and its provocative research moved from an emphasis on North American borderlands (including Canada, the U.S., and Mexico) to global border studies. Once ABS became global in its reach, its Secretariats moved from Finland (specifically the University of Eastern Finland [UEF]) to Arizona State University (www.absborderlands.org). At the very first international border studies meeting in 2014, located in the Finnish-Russian borderlands, I sat next to Tony on the long plane trip to Helsinki: I learned more details about changing Polish borders over the centuries than I could possibly remember!

A precursor to the global ABS can be found in Tony’s vision and leadership around comparative and international border studies, the Lineae Terrarum conference held in 2006. In organizing the conference, he worked closely with Dr. Tony Payan, now director of the Center for the United States and Mexico at Rice University. Back then, we on the planning committee called them the Two Tony’s.

Lineae Terrarum brought scholars from scores of countries to present research papers at a conference that crossed four institutional borders in a binational, tristate borderlands region: Mexico, the United States, and the states of Texas, Chihuhua, and New Mexico. We presented and engaged with pioneering research at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, New Mexico State University, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, and of course, the University of Texas at El Paso. I remember the stresses associated with conference logistics and visa requirements as scholars traveled on buses that crossed the always-bureaucratic and tangled U.S. Ports of Entry. The confence not only produced vibrant intellectual exchanges and networking among international scholars, but also many publications in academic journals and edited book volumes, including two that the Two Tony’s and I co-edited, published by the prestigious University of Arizona Press.

Tony always graciously accepted invitations to share knowledge through lectures in public service with his adopted community of El Paso. He received many recognitions and honors for that work, including from the Holocaust Museum in El Paso (the closest counterpart museum of which is 600 miles away). Tony and June gave generous scholarships to students at UTEP, including to Polish students for advanced graduate education. Indeed, Tony gave me ideas to help me find out more about my own roots in north-central and eastern Europe, ancestors from among the waves of immigrants who entered the U.S., including my father, from the mid-19th century through the 1920s, after which politicians put more policy restrictions in place. Despite various contacts Tony gave me, I have lost touch with relatives forceably re-settled from a village south of Budapest to Berlin.

I cannot possibly begin to highlight the many, many features of Tony’s life and achievements. That is for readers to enjoy and learn from in this remarkable book by Dr. Beata Halicka. I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Halicka on a trip to the borderlands of Frankfurt-Oder and Slubice. Then we became closer friends and colleagues when she assumed a visiting professorship at the University of Texas at El Paso for a semester. In this, her fine book-length historical contribution to border studies in Europe, the United States, and the world, she analyzed history through the eyes and experiences of Dr. Kruszewski, then methodically verified the analysis with archival research, secondary studies, and other interviews to produce a well-written, accessible narrative.

I wish we had more books like this outstanding contribution to knowledge in the biography of Dr. Z. Anthony Kruszewski, as expertly analyzed by historian Dr. Beata Halicka!

-Kathleen (Kathy) Staudt, PhD

Professor Emerita of Political Science

University of Texas at El Paso

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