We are very sorry to learn about the passing away of our former colleague Dr Eric Ross on 20 December 2017 in Washington DC.
Eric worked at ISS from 1992 to 2008 as associate professor in the MA programme Development Studies. He taught in the Population, Poverty and Social Development specialization in the department of Rural Development, Environment and Population and was also involved in the PhD Field Research Methods course that attracted many students from across the Netherlands. Between 1995 and 1997 Eric Ross contributed to the research programme Access to food: population, technology and agrarian resources in the era of globalization (in cooperation with Wageningen University). Eric was the first Chair of the Board of Examiners of ISS and played an important role in creating this Board that oversaw academic standards.
In recent years he was professorial lecturer in Anthropology and International Development Studies at the George Washington University in Washington,D.C.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
In Memoriam by Daniel Kostzer
There are men who struggle for a day and they are good.
There are men who struggle for a year and they are better.
There are men who struggle many years, and they are better still.
But there are those who struggle all their lives:
These are the indispensable ones. (Bertolt Brecht, The Mother 1930)
Professor, mentor, comrade, friend, accomplice. Which is the word that best describes Eric? All of them, individually and all together. He was all those things packed in his small body that resembled a Quixote, or a skinny Marx, always smiling and ready to have a coffee to continue a chat.
He was always ready to share with everybody ideas, thoughts, books, references, music, advice, well, all of what he got. Generous, committed, not only with the big, intangible, political struggles, but also with the personal issues that required just practical or material things. His generosity was beyond the usual in the selfish world of the academics 'ivory tower'.
Warmly stubborn, never aggressive, could engage in discussions that would last for weeks, but always willing to find a way of building bridges with the other and find the right ground. In this respect, not the typical provocative intellectual, much more interested in maintaining a stereotype, rather somebody that would try to find constantly rational ways of understanding the world, not with the descriptive detail of an entomologist, but with the urgency of uncovering paths to change a state of inequality and suffering for vast segments of the population. Not by chance he worked in the analysis of hunger.
All this was combined in his lectures. Not the transmission of certainties, but the sharing of doubts and challenges that led his work. He would mix a very hard-core scientific paper, with the lyrics of ‘Over the Rainbow’ with the talent of a master-chef preparing a signature dish. You never knew the next ‘ingredient’ that would be added. Always with passion and generosity, capturing the interest and stimulating critical thinking.
When his father died, Eric invited a group of friends to his always open house in The Hague, to celebrate with him the life of his predecessor. Not to cry the departure. I am sure that if we would have the chance to ask Eric what he would like, he would say “fill a glass with the best single malt that you can find, and enjoy yourself”.
Companion Eric, we will always remember you, your kindness, and your life.