Professor Luďa Klusáková worked at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, for more than 40 years and her endeavour significantly contributed to the forming of the Institute of Global History, its scientific and pedagogical accomplishments and expansion of international contacts.
Dozens of friends and colleagues share the memories of the professor; more texts in Czech are available in the article Vzpomínky přátel a kolegů na prof. Luďu Klusákovou (1950–2020).
James S. Amelang (Departamento de Historia Moderna, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Looking out of the window and at the hills around me, I can but remember the times when we crossed Gascony from village to village, visiting places and taking pictures, making the most of every single moment to capture the magic of this ancient province.
We had first met in a distant place, Pisa in Tuscany, curiously so familiar to me because of the sunflowers and hills that usually surround the city. Thanks to you I discovered the incredible adventure of CLIOHnet and made my first steps among a community of European scholars knowing that it would represent a major professional and personal experience.
Convinced both by the necessity and importance of a closer relationship between our two universities, Prague and Toulouse, we discussed the possibility of signing an Erasmus agreement, something we did in 2002, inaugurating a cooperation that lasted and prospered to the very last days.
This plan was the first of many imagined over the years. Some were successful; others did not come to fulfilment, but each and every time we shared the same eagerness and pleasure to work together. This is what led us to invite each other. You came to Toulouse in 2002 for a couple of months as invited professor and again in summer to discover my “French Tuscany” as the British visitors say when they talk about my département du Gers. I showed you all the places I knew and discovered together many other landscapes and villages that were just tiny points on the map. You were so impressed by the Abbey in Flaran and the collegiate church in La Romieu that you imagined creating a book to make them known to a larger audience in the Czech Republic as well as in France. You would write the text of the book, I would take the pictures.
Although we collected hundreds of pictures and impressions that summer, and again in the next two years, this project unfortunately never materialized for whatever reason, probably because the Czech editor abandoned the project of publishing it. However, you worked diligently on that book, writing a good deal of its substance, in spite of all your many activities and duties. It was enough eventually to design a comprehensive framework of analysis in order to use your set of ideas in conferences and articles. Involved in the urban and landscape history, as you proved magnificently in your book On the Way to Constantinople: Ottoman cities of the 16th century as seen by Christian eyes, you found in Gascony a marvellous source of inspiration for your study on cultural heritage, not only as an academic subject, but also as further motivation to show in the Czech Republic how cultural heritage can be used with remarkable effect in touristic revitalizing strategies, as you wrote in 2017 in a remarkable contribution.
I would also like to thank you for your hospitality and warmth and kindness every time I came to visit you and your family in Prague. I came to know your two sons, Miroslav and Vojtěch, and your charming mother Zoe, and shared marvellous moments with you all. Maybe because you felt indebted to me, you brought me to places I had never heard about that produced a lasting impression on me. I discovered among many things the Czech Renaissance architecture in Telč, the old and modern Jewish tradition of the Třebíč cemetery and ghetto, and the gorgeous classic gardens of Kroměříž castle. How lovely were the bottles of wine I bought at the castle cellars as well!
What I also remember is the stunning amazement of Prague and the chance I had to visit the Strahov Monastery with your group of students. As I sometimes say to my own students, perhaps would I be a medievalist if Erasmus conventions had existed in my youth years, and if I’d heard about the existence of such an incredible place as the Strahov Library. Since then I’ve never forgotten the unique feeling of holding in my hands an incunabulum, on that day a first edition of Copernic’s De revolutionibus.
In the same way as you in Gascony, I understood here and there how important the Czech lands were in my research project about the centre-periphery relations in Europe during the 18th–19th centuries. If we thought that my département du Gers was the very heart of Gascony, for sure the Czech lands, i.e. Bohemia and Moravia, had to be regarded as the very heart of Europe. All the work we have done within CLIOHres from 2005 to 2010 helped me as well to get acquainted with other cultures and traditions, and thanks to you to with outstanding scholars who would eventually become close friends of ours. Most of the things I learned about Poland, Slovakia, Rumania, and Greece, to name only some of the countries they came from, was during our thematic work group meetings, particularly during the festive and cosy discussions we spent together.
As you can see, I owe you a lot Luďa, and I probably should have said it earlier, but words are not all and I’m convinced that you knew about my gratitude without needing to express it. One thing for sure, we will all miss you, your witty spirit and the mischievous smile that reminds me of the angel at the Reims Cathedral, the Smiling Angel.
Wherever you go I wish you fair winds. You loved traveling so much.
Peter Clark (Emeritus Professor of European Urban History, University of Helsinki, Treasurer of the EAUH 1989–2010)
Over the past few years, I have witnessed the organization of series of international research programmes and conferences by her with seemingly inexhaustible energies from which I, along with many, have benefited myself, and for which I am grateful to her. She was exemplary in her dedication of promoting the comparative and interdisciplinary approach of urban history. I was deeply impressed by her level of knowledge and understanding of the past and contemporary problems of the Central European region, and it was a joy to discuss them with her in Prague, in Budapest and elsewhere over a coffee or dinner.
For nearly ten years, we taught the TEMA program students from all around the world together, and I could see how she related to teaching. For me, this was the most intense impression she made on me: the generosity and special attention with which she turned to each of her students. She deeply cared for their future, the development of their studies, their careers, and this was more important for her than anything else.
It is very painful that she passed away, but Luďa was a personality whose memory will live on among friends, colleagues, and disciples.
Stéphane Durand (Professeur à l’Université d’Avignon depuis 2010, Directeur-adjoint du Centre Norbert Elias (UMR 8562) Responsable du CMI „Ingénierie en Histoire et Multimédia)
Simon Gunn (Professor of Urban History and co-editor Urban History, Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester)
Neil Forbes (Coordinator, the REACH project. Professor of International History, Coventry University, UK)
Tammy S. Gordon (PhD, Professor of History and Director of Public History North Carolina State University, US)
I always appreciated her attention and special concern not only toward professional and academic issues but also to the personal side of our work; she was the most careful and helpful professor that I have ever met. I know that hundreds of students, colleagues and partners from all around the world will carry her memory with them and I remain very grateful for having met her.
In 2016, Luďa wrote in our guestbook that her visit to Helsinki in 2016 was her sixth visit to Finland. We met for the first time at the first meeting of European Association of Urban Historians (EAUH) in 1992 in Amsterdam and the visit to Helsinki was connected to the conference of EAUH in Helsinki. Luďa Klusáková developed her research activities in an international context, and we can be thankful for Czech contacts to Professor Miroslav Hroch, whom my professor Aira Kemiläinen invited to Finland at the end of 1970s. What they had in common was nationalism and comparative history.
In December 1994, Professor Miroslav Hroch invited me to participate in a round table discussion on Unequal Development. This was my first visit to Prague. On my first day in Prague, I heard that I had been invited to an Independence Day celebration hosted by President Martti Ahtisaari. I needed a long evening dress. My husband’s tailcoat was waiting at home. Luďa kindly accompanied me to the shops and I was proud to wear a Czech evening dress to the President’s party.
Professor Luďa Klusáková continued with the cooperation between Finland and Czech Republic and those research fields on nationalism. Her research interests also focused on the area of comparative European urban history. She was interested in the modernisation of European cities, in problems of innovation as an aspect of the modernisation and the process of perception and interpretation of the changes in towns. In a broad context, she has been interested in the issue of cultural identities and perceptions of various “othernesses”.
We all have enjoyed on Luďa’s extensive networks and bilateral contacts which covered the major regions of Europe, from Prague to Tampere, Finland, and from Prague to Paris and Newcastle. We have admired her effective coordination skills as she coordinated several research groups and exchange programs like ERASMUS/SOCRATES, and research groups like, TEMA, CLIOHRES.net and Tensions of Europe. These offered possibilities for scholars and students to participate in seminars and workshops as well as to study in Prague. The ERASMUS network consisted also of exchanges of teachers. Many of us had the privilege to lecture at Charles University and we will never forget the stunning views of the Castle.
Luďa gave several lectures at the University of Tampere. Our students remember her lectures in 2003 on “The Road to Constantinople. The Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Towns through Christian Eyes” based on her Habilitationschrift. Her starting point was to look at how a traveller, “a person from a Christian Western or Northern World perceived a society organised on an entirely different principles to his own society”. We also had several common sessions at conferences. I want to particularly mention her presentation on the XXI. Amsterdam Conference of International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS)/Comité international des Sciences Historiques (CISH). Luďa gave a presentation in my session The City as Culture/La ville, produit culturel in 2010.
Owing to her wide competence in the fields of history, she inspired our students and got them interested in comparative research. In Prague, she held a regular research seminar for PhD students which she also opened to MA and post-doctoral students. Since the 2000s, my students participated in this seminar as well. Luďa’s interest in innovative communities (her presentation at the XIV. Economic History Conference in Helsinki in 2006) was very close to my own interests in innovations.
I would like to mention two concrete cases where Luďa’s knowledge and role have been crucial. Luďa gave helpful guidance to my student Riikka Nisonen-Trnka (Palonkorpi) for her dissertation on “Science with a Human Face: the Activity of the Czechoslovak Scientists Frantisek Sorm and Otto Wichterle during the Cold War” (2012, in Czech 2017). Luďa was also asked to be the opponent for Tanja Vahtikari’s doctoral dissertation “Valuing World Heritage Cities” at Tampere University. The book was published by Routledge in 2017.
During the EAUH conference in Helsinki in 2016, we made a weekend trip with Luďa to our summerhouse which is on an island in Vesanto, in Central Finland, 400 kilometres from Helsinki. This made her last visit to Finland memorable. The summer 2016 was full of sun and berries. We picked lingonberries, ate fresh fish from the lake, went to sauna, swam in the lake, and had many interesting conversations on small towns, peripheral regions and backwardness. I met Luďa last time in March 2019 when I lectured at her TEMA seminar. I had a wonderful time in Prague with her. In 2019, she was elected the External Member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.
Kathy Isaacs (Ann Katherine Isaacs) (Professor of Modern History at the University of Pisa (emeritus), Vice-Chair of the Bologna Follow Up Group of the European Higher Education Area)
During those years, from June 2005 to the end of 2010, Luďa was a dynamic and creative leader of the work group, a proactive and critically alert member of the Board, the organizer – with Steven Ellis – of ten separate Thematic Work Group meetings in different European countries, and of five volumes of research results on the Frontiers theme. In 2008, she also organized in Prague one of the Network’s five Plenary meetings: a conference for all the 180 participants, which her organizational, promotional and intercultural abilities made memorable for everyone.
In Luďa’s participation in the Network of Excellence, and more generally in her life, an important factor was the care and attention she gave to her students, her unflagging energy in forming and promoting a new generation of historians, not only at Charles University in Prague. Luďa took seriously the ethical and epistemological rules of historical research and of scientific research in general. She developed her own scientific interests with coherence and rigor, and fostered the same attitude among her students and collaborators in the History seminar. In her hierarchy of values, scientific research was fundamental, but so were international cooperation and higher education, as demonstrated by her care for the Erasmus Mundus programme TEMA.
Above and beyond my admiration for Luďa as a researcher and a teacher, I wish to remember her as an extraordinary human being, reserved, careful and affectionate. Although until recently, we did not see each other often after the CLIOHRES days, we became close and loyal friends and were able to share a great deal about our past, our families, and our hopes and concerns for the future. I miss you, Luďa.
One important cause which brought Luďa and me regularly together was the European Association for Urban History. The story of the EAUH has been a story of integrating different (e.g. Western, Southern, Eastern and Northern European) urban experiences into the scholarship of urban history. With her active work in the EAUH and with her work as Professor at Charles University, Luďa played a crucial role in putting the history of Czech cities and that of other cities in the region squarely on the European urban map. Luďa was the President of the EAUH in 2010–2012 and organized the 11th International Conference on Urban History (EAUH 2012 Prague), which was a great success. She was also one of the scholars who had an important role in the growth and professionalization of the EAUH in the early 2000s.
Our universities – Charles University and Tampere University – have had a successful exchange programme since the 1990s. Luďa visited Tampere University in many roles: as a keynote speaker, examiner, advisor and commentator – and over the years we have seen also many of her colleagues and students in Tampere. Prague, in turn, have become familiar to me and many of my Tampere colleagues. The outcomes of this close collaboration are many and varied: academic achievements like books, dissertations, articles and conference sessions – but also friendships. Luďa – we are determined to take your work forward.
Marie-Vic Ozouf-Marignier (Directrice d’études de l’EHESS, Chaire: Identités, savoirs, aménagement, responsable scientifique du master TEMA à Paris)
Nous nous sommes connues il y a 15 ans dans le cadre de la préparation du master TEMA. Ensuite, nous n’avons cessé de collaborer et nous avons noué une amitié solide. Nous nous rencontrions plusieurs fois par an, à Budapest, Prague, Catane ou Paris. Nous avons aussi participé ensemble à des congrès.
A cet égard, je voudrais chaleureusement saluer les qualités d’initiative scientifique de Luďa Klusáková, notamment dans le rôle qu’elle a joué comme membre du comité international puis présidente de l’EAUH (European Association for Urban History). A Gand en 2010 et Lisbonne en 2014, j’ai eu la très stimulante occasion de conduire avec elle, en collaboration avec Jaroslav Ira, une session sur les capitales régionales et une sur les petites villes. L’invitation de Luďa Klusáková à l’EHESS en 2013 a été remarquée pour ses conférences articulant une histoire urbaine diachronique très féconde à une méthodologie de haute exigence.
Les qualités pédagogiques de Luďa Klusáková étaient exceptionnelles. Tous les étudiants du master TEMA ont pu bénéficier de sa grande disponibilité, de ses conseils avisés et de sa générosité attentive. Elle aimait transmettre sa grande culture et son exigence intellectuelle.
Son grand professionnalisme rendait notre collaboration efficace. Ses qualités humaines la rendait aussi conviviale et souvent joyeuse.
Je garde le souvenir d’une collègue et d’une amie exceptionnelle.
Luďa Klusáková’s disappearance is for me an incalculable loss, both academically and as a friend.
We met 15 years ago during the preparation of the TEMA master’s degree. After that, we worked together continuously and developed a strong friendship. We met several times a year, in Budapest, Prague, Catania or Paris. We also participated together at conferences.
In this respect, I would like to warmly salute Luďa Klusáková’s qualities of scientific initiative, especially in the role she played as a member of the international committee and then the President of the EAUH (European Association for Urban History). In Ghent in 2010 and Lisbon in 2014, I had the very stimulating opportunity to lead with her, in collaboration with Jaroslav Ira, a session on regional capitals and one on small towns. Luďa Klusáková’s invitation to the EHESS in 2013 was noted for her lectures articulating a very fruitful diachronic urban history with a highly demanding methodology. Luďa Klusáková’s pedagogical qualities were remarkable. All the students of the TEMA Master’s program could benefit from her great availability, her sound advice and her attentive generosity. She liked to transmit her great culture and intellectual rigor.
Her great professionalism made our collaboration effective. Her human qualities also made her friendly and often cheerful.
I remember her as an exceptional colleague and friend.
Halina Parafianowicz (Professor, Department of Contemporary History, University of Białystok, Poland)
I met Luďa Klusáková during my first visit to Prague. I was doing research for my post-doctoral dissertation regarding the United States’ politics toward Czechoslovakia in the inter-war period. During my archival query, I was looking for the American Studies scientists and specialists investigating similar fields to mine. During one of the meetings in the Department of Contemporary History at Charles University, I met Luďka. Although she investigated completely different fields, she kindly expressed her interest in my research. That brief talk of ours during a meeting with numerous historians in Prague resulted in an extensive correspondence, long-lasting scientific collaboration, and cordial friendship, which I consider specifically significant and dear to me.
Luďka’s first visit to Białystok, Poland, is an especially vivid memory to me. She came with her sons – Miroslav and Vojtěch – together, we visited the Podlasie regional sights, travelled Białowieża and had a bonfire with children. It was the visit to begin Luďka’s numerous returns to the place. She had visited Poland before and had her broad contacts in Warsaw. Yet it was the first visit to my region which sparked her fascination with the Podlasie region in general, and the history of the region’s little towns in particular. In the future, it was to bring its fruition in her comparative research and scientific writing; she looked into the specifics of small townships, the field in which she was an international expert.
During my further stays in Prague, we used to meet regularly. The meetings were always captivating and creative. Needless to say, they were also cordial and effective. They resulted, among others, in research projects in which we cooperated, publications and volumes which she edited, and articles we co-authored. With time, our relationship led to closer contacts between Charles University and the University of Białystok, especially within the Erasmus framework. We also used to meet during various international conferences such as the one in Athens, Greece (2004) or – quite recently – in Budapest, Hungary, during the Resilient Cultural Heritage and Communities in Europe (REACH) (2018).
Personally, Ludka was open, hearty, and kind to people. Professionally, she was a splendid scholar and great academic teacher. She always found time to share her knowledge and experience with other colleagues and – especially – with her students and PhD candidates. She was clearly an erudite scholar, fantastically familiar with the international literature on the subject-matter. Obviously, she was always excellently prepared for her lectures. I had the privilege to see and experience it during the Erasmus exchanges, her visits to Białystok, and mine to Prague. She was genuinely involved in her PhD candidates’ research ideas and projects. Luďa always inspired people and encouraged them to participate in conferences and grant projects. She was an acknowledged, well-seasoned academic of international reputation; she spoke a number of foreign languages, travelled extensively and maintained numerous scholarly contacts. Owing to those, she was able and always willing to support the careers and scientific development of her junior colleagues, commonly opening to them doors to international cooperation. Ludka was truly happy and proud of their successes and accomplishments.
My recurring visits to the unusual, open and hospitable Prague home of Professor Luďa Klusáková (to which place I willingly returned) and the honour of meeting her family members – particularly her wonderful parents – were invariably most unique and unforgettable experiences. It was with Luďa and her family that I visited numerous beautiful and fascinating places in Bohemia and – her beloved – Moravia. In 2017, I had the privilege to visit her family house, the memory of which I cherish to this day.
Meeting Luďa Klusáková years ago and her long-lasting friendship were a great gift of fate to me. Her most extraordinary personality, kindness, openness and modesty – accompanied by such impressive scientific and academic achievements – were acknowledged and appreciated by her colleagues and practically everyone who knew her. Such is her memory here, in Białystok, where the circle of her friends and acquaintances systematically grew over the years.
Professor Luďa Klusáková will always remain in our memory as a meritorious researcher of international acclaim and authority; as a unique person of excellent manners, cultured and sensitive. Her all-too-early death brings suffering and regret. A beautiful and creative life of a fascinating academic, a wonderful mother of – now – two amazing men, a loving grand-mother and a devoted daughter has come to its end.
I would like to pass my deepest condolences to Luďa’s nearest and dearest – sons, Miroslav and Vojtěch, mother – Madame Zoe – as well as all Luďa’s friends and colleagues.
In my memories, Luďa has a reserved place with her academic integrity and ability to offer in-depth discussions to all of us and provide support to younger colleagues when needed, with her small but very warm signs of various kinds expressing friendship, and, last but not least, with her quiet and sophisticated fresh sense of humor. I will continue using her rich narrative and discussion in “The Road to Constantinople” in my teaching. RIP Lud’a.
Johan Schot (Professor in Global History & Sustainability Transitions, Centre for Global Challenges, Utrecht University; Director of TIPC, University of Sussex)
I could never imagine that one day I would say something like this about Luďa. I knew she was always there, that I could reach her by phone, Skype, or e-mail anytime. That she would respond immediately or almost. Now when she is not with us any more, I feel empty. I guess this is how one becomes an adult.
I spent two years at TEMA (2011–2013) and this time was the most formative period of my life. Luďa played a major role in my MA studies: not only she was my supervisor but she continued to act caringly toward me long after the thesis’ completion. Luďa helped me to get accepted on a doctoral program, wrote references and attended my talks until two years ago. She always read carefully what I sent to her, and her feedback was meticulous and useful: when I think about it now, it seems that, more than any other person, Luďa made me into a historian. With her example, she convinced us that theory and empirical research should be in a constant interplay, that the former does not exist without the latter, and vice versa.
Luďa belonged to a generation of historians who had had an unusual career trajectory. They formed professionally in the epoch when being a historian could be a conformist thing. And yet when the Iron Curtain fell, not all could adjust to freedom: many stuck to old habits, sank into denial, or quit the profession. Luďa did none of these things. She published extensively in English and in French, built bridges, created new knowledge, and connected Prague and Czech historians to the world. She constantly received foreign historians in Prague, and travelled abroad. She shaped the minds of generations of non-European students, many of whom became scholars.
When I think about Luďa’s legacy as a historian, it is her connection with and responsibility for the object of her research – Bohemian and Moravian towns – that strike me most. Luďa was not an ivory tower scholar. Once some fellow students and I travelled with her through Czech towns by car, and were amazed. She actually knew people there. She knew local activists, museum workers, tourist guides. She knew their pains and routines, and had a genuine sympathy for their ways of life. She knew charming places to have coffee, and where best to watch the sunset. For her, heritage was not only about politics, funding, or another dissertation defended – it was something she cared deeply about, and what occupied her thoughts.
Her attitude seemed to me awkward then; I lived in the big city of Prague, waiting for my move to the even bigger city of Paris. Years passed though, and I look at these issues differently now. I begin to understand you better, Luďa. I wish we could talk about it again and go back to the past. But we cannot. I will miss you, Luďa.
She was a brave trailblazer. Later, as our European projects began to bear their fruit, we laughed a lot about how successful we were at persuading our respective authorities about the importance of joint teaching and research programmes. We might have been blessed by Don Quixote, since we managed to prevail in so many battles with bureaucratic windmills. Luďa remained stubborn and enthusiastic, because she was persuaded that academia must open up in every part of Europe and the world. She believed that we have to exercise our profession internationally and we have to train our students accordingly.
She was not only an energetic scholar, but also an excellent organiser and manager. During the two decades in which I was fortunate to work with her, her managing skills as well as her exceptional talent to deal with any motley crowd of professors and students from a diverse provenance of nationality, culture and discipline became apparent. I had the impression that her personal mission to make national history-writing and history-teaching global and globally comprehensible manifested itself in the three consecutive phases of the TEMA European Master Programme. First, the TEMA EU “Socrates Erasmus Curriculum Development Programme” (2005–2008), then our initial European Joint Master Course, the TEMA “European territories: identity and development” (2010–2017), and currently, the TEMA+ “European Territories: Heritage and Development European Master Programme” (2018–2022) gave her the opportunity to bridge intellectually her country, the Czech Republic, and her beloved city, Prague, to dozens of students and guest professors coming from all over the world.
She was an urban historian, who had an intimate relationship with her city, Prague. She had a special talent in sharing this confidential connection with those who were willing to learn from her at different levels: she could allocate her knowledge about her enchanting city on the occasions of personal walks; she taught many students about the history of the Czech capital in the context of urban networks in her seminars; and she welcomed and initiated hundreds of urban historians into the “Cities and Societies in a Comparative – and from a primarily Prague – perspective” as the president of the 11th International Conference of the European Association for Urban History.
She was a metropolitan person who could feel at home in any great city. At the same time, she was sensitive to small and peripheral towns, which led us to our other shared interest: urban heritage and the contemporary society, which expresses itself through this kind of interpretation of the past. That is how we both became pilot leaders in the REACH “RE-designing Access to Cultural Heritage for a wider participation in preservation, (re-)use and management of European culture” H2020 EC Research Programme (2018–2020). Through her research she wanted to assist the small urban communities in Slovakia and Poland – but also in France, Italy and Spain – to become resilient among the vicissitudes of history and to develop a critical interpretation of their past to avoid its populist and simplified understanding.
She was a teacher, who could enlighten not only in the classroom, but in any circumstances. Once, we were in her office at Charles University at the end of a long and tiring sequence of meetings. I was inquiring with unnecessary questions about the location of the guest house that Luďa was arranging for me. Promptly, she looked at me and said: “You can’t have everything.” She uttered this sentence with such authority and humour that we both started to chuckle. She knew exactly how to finish a day, and she did it with empathy and sympathy.
Now that she has passed away, it is not primarily the eminent scholar, teacher, and organiser, whom I miss, but the true and reliable friend. I am grateful to Luďa for making our increasingly apprehensive Central Europe a cosy and cordial place, in which her legacy and memory will remain our reference point.
Laure Teulières (Maîtresse de conférences en histoire contemporaine, Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Framespa, codirectrice de la revue Diasporas – Circulations, migrations, histoire)
Luďa Klusáková aura assurément apporté énormément à tous ceux et celles qui ont eu la chance de la croiser à l’occasion des échanges qui font le quotidien de nos métiers. Plus qu’aucune autre personne, elle avait une façon incomparable de concilier relations académiques et convivialité, problématiques intellectuelles et bienveillance humaine du quotidien. Elle incarnait aussi la capacité rare de savoir impulser et coordonner, assumant un leadership évident, tout en privilégiant toujours la dimension collective, en ouvrant largement la délibération et l’accueil de toutes les idées ou les initiatives pouvant participer à l’ensemble. Elle reste ainsi l’exemple d’une enseignante-chercheuse de référence parmi les plus partageuses, soucieuse au plus haut point de mettre en lien des collègues de toutes provenances, les chercheurs confirmés et les jeunes chercheurs. Ayant agrégé autour d’elle quantité de doctorants et postdoctorants brillants et enthousiastes, elle a su les pousser à développer ces mêmes valeurs de stimulation intellectuelle, d’échanges, de partage. Lud’a, ses étudiants, et ses collègues amis les plus proches, c’était à l’évidence un réseau dynamique et soudé, ce qui se percevait même depuis l’autre bout de l’Europe et l’université de Toulouse à laquelle j’appartiens. Rencontrée à l’occasion du réseau européen d’excellence CLIOHRES et de son groupe de travail »Frontières et identités« quelle codirigeait, nous avions ensuite poursuivi ensemble d’autres projets de recherche internationaux (projet DECOVAL pour l’AUF, puis Horizon 2020 HERITURBA, abouti finalement dans le programme REACH). Luďa les envisageait toujours avec une infatigable énergie et disponibilité, allégeant le travail pourtant fastidieux pour monter et conduire ces lourds dossiers. Elle avait, enfin, une façon toute en délicatesse d’approfondir et de faire perdurer à distance une relation amicale. A écrire ces quelques lignes d’hommage, je laisse à d’autres le soin d’insister sur sa contribution aux champs scientifiques dont elle a traité, tout ce qu’elle a développé dans l’approche d’histoire sociale et culturelle comparée dont elle était si soucieuse et une excellente praticienne, en particulier dans les domaines de l’histoire urbaine et de l’étude du patrimoine. Car ce sont d’abord ses qualités humaines qui s’imposent avec émotion à ma mémoire. Luďa, merci d’avoir été une si belle personne et si véritablement inspirante. Tu n’as pas fini de nous accompagner dans l’intimité du souvenir…
Luďa Klusáková has certainly made an enormous contribution to all those who had the chance to meet her during the exchanges that take place on a daily basis in our work. More than anyone else, she had an incomparable way of accommodating academic relations and conviviality, intellectual issues and everyday human benevolence. She also embodied the rare ability of knowing how to give impetus and coordination, assuming clear leadership, while always giving priority to the collective dimension, by broadening the deliberation and reception of all ideas or initiatives that could contribute to the whole. She thus remains an example of a teacher-researcher of reference amongst the most sharing, and eager to bring together colleagues from all backgrounds, with both experienced and young researchers. Having gathered around her a large number of brilliant and enthusiastic doctoral and post-doctoral students, she has been able to encourage them to develop the same values of intellectual stimulation, exchange and sharing. Luďa, her students, and her closest friends and colleagues were obviously a dynamic and close-knit network, which could even be seen from the other side of Europe and the University of Toulouse, to which I belong. Having met during the European network of excellence CLIOHRES and its “Frontiers and Identities” working group, which she co-directed, we then pursued other international research projects together (the DECOVAL project for the AUF, then Horizon 2020 HERITURBA, which finally led to the REACH programme). Luďa always approached them with untiring energy and availability, lightening the tedious work of putting together and managing these heavy dossiers. Lastly, she had a very delicate way of deepening and maintaining a friendly relationship from a distance. In writing these few lines of homage, I leave it to others to insist upon her contribution to the scientific fields she dealt with, everything she developed in the approach of comparative social and cultural history that she was so concerned about and an excellent practitioner, particularly in the fields of urban history and heritage studies. For it is first and foremost her human qualities that I remember with emotion. Luďa, thank you for being such a beautiful and truly inspiring person. You have not finished accompanying us in the intimacy of memory…
At the time of my dissertation, Luďa and myself were amongst the few historians, who had published on World Heritage, as the field was dominated by cultural geographers, ethnographers and sociologists. Luďa had written about World Heritage in the context of Czech towns in her article “Between Urban and Rural Culture: Public Use of History and Cultural Heritage in Building Collective Identities (1990–2007)”. Urban heritage as a cultural, social and economic phenomenon, key to contemporary societies (at any given time), remained our joint interest also later. In 2013, Luďa invited me as an Erasmus Mundus visiting teacher to Charles University. During that visit, urban heritage was everywhere: in academic seminars and discussions, on the city streets – naturally – as well as in our memorable visit to Rudolfinum to hear the Czech Philharmonic play. Subsequently, Luďa invited me to be an associate partner in her and her colleagues’ successful Horizon2020 application REACH, focusing on access to cultural heritage. In the project, Luďa was able to combine two of her main research interests, small towns and heritage, and, in particular, people’s ability to take an active part in their heritage. Luďa’s recent conceptual innovation was “resilient urban heritage”, the potential of which lies in its ability to combine aspects of sustainable and community heritage. I feel very fortunate that I was able to see Luďa regularly in workshops and that we stayed in active contact also between these events. Luďa had a generous heart for younger colleagues around Europe. To have known her and worked with her was a privilege and a true inspiration, for which I will remain grateful. I hope to honor her memory by passing forward the deep spirit of scholarship she represented.
When I think of her, I also think of her as an extraordinary mentor. It was a great pleasure to participate as guest professor in the inaugural year of the European Union’s ERASMUS MUNDUS TEMA Graduate Program in Prague, which she directed. Thus, it was during academic year 2011–2012 that I learned Luďa was an extremely accomplished pedagogue as well as scholar. Very few people are this felicitous combination. I learned a great deal watching her work with the diverse group of graduate students in this program who hailed from around the world. At least one of them, Prof. Nari Shelekpayev, completed his doctorate in urban history and has become a professor himself.
One of my favorite memories of Prague dates from spring 2012. Luďa hosted a BBQ with the graduate students at her house, which she shared with her lovely mother, economics professor Zoe Klusáková-Svobodová. It was Kaiserwetter and the garden was lovely. Luďa was an excellent cook and hostess, among her other many fine qualities. I will miss her.
Yiannis Xydopoulos (Associate Professor in Ancient Greek History, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Death is omnipresent. This is a fact, but we are used to ignoring it, until the moment death hits the people we love. Then you have to deal with the new reality, trying at first to cope with awkwardness, anger, sadness. Finally, you accept it.
News of Luďa’s death reached me via my former Cliohres friends and colleagues. Then, I was asked to write some thoughts for this book of condolences. So, allow me to share with you the following story:
One April Sunday morning in 2010, I was in Prague. Together with Luďa and Jaroslav Ira, we were the organizers of a Session for the 10th Congress of the European Association of Urban History Conference, which was to be held in Ghent that September. So, in order to attend to the details of the Session, we were invited to Luďa’s house. It was misty when we finally reached her place. She opened the door and welcomed us with a smile, saying that the tea was ready. When entering the house, one could realize that this was a cozy place, belonging to someone who loved books. A fine smell of freshly baked cookies surrounded us. Luďa served the tea and we had a fine one-hour discussion. All this time, she was like a mother for my two Czech colleagues. You see, she was the supervisor of their PhDs, so in a way, she was their mother… And they loved her.
After the tea, it was time for work. She put on her glasses, took that academic look that made some of her colleagues worried – even afraid – and started to conduct the whole discussion. Her academic experience was evident in every comment, she was making additions or corrections to our suggestions. Without imposing her opinion on her students and a younger colleague from Greece, she made us think twice on what we were about to write. She was guiding us by behaving as a true teacher rather than an academic boss. When we finished, after 3 hours, there was a general feeling of satisfaction since we had progressed a lot with the Session. You see, one of her many talents was being influential via her knowledge and her character, not by her status as a Professor. After all, this is what genuine academics do. And now Academia is left with one less…
Before leaving her house, she gave me a rare edition of Victor Ehrenberg’s, Der Staat der Griechen, as a gift. She tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Now, you take care of it. Safe journey back”. And she kissed me. Like my mum would have done.