Élisée Reclus, the son of Jacques Reclus, a Protestant pastor, was born at Sainte-Foy-la-Grande on 15th March, 1830. He had thirteen brothers and sisters. A talented student he went to the Protestant College of Sainte-Foy, before studying theology at Montauban. As a student he was a supporter of the French Revolution in 1848.
Reclus also studied in Strasbourg before moving to the University of Berlin in 1851 where he attended several lectures by the noted geographer Carl Ritter. He returned to Paris and protested against the coup d'état of Napoleon III. In 1852 he was forced to flee to London. According to Peter Kropotkin: "He lived in Ireland, where he espoused with all his ardour the cause of the Irish people, starved by the English, who had robbed them of their land and killed their rural industries."
In 1853 Élisée Reclus found work as a private tutor near New Orleans. He also published an account of his travels on the Mississippi River. During this period he became a strong opponent of slavery. He described Louisiana: "It is a great auction hall where everything is sold, slaves and owner into the bargain, votes and honour, the Bible and consciences. Everything belongs to the one who is richer."
On 14th December 1858, Reclus married Clarisse Brian of Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, daughter of a French sea captain and a Senegalese woman. Over the next few years he spent a great deal of time travelling, conducting research for a number of travel guides produced by the publishing firm Hachette. Reclus also spent time reading the work of anarchist writers and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Michael Bakunin and the League of Peace and Freedom. In 1864, Elisée helped to establish the first cooperative in Paris. In 1865 he joined the International Workingmen's Association. Other members included Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Mikhail Bakunin and William Greene.
Peter Kropotkin pointed out: "Elisée answered to this double current, humanitarian and scientific. He contrived to interest the French in the great slavery abolition struggle which then began in America. He threw himself into the anti-imperial movement which was outlining itself in France, in the sixties, and he took part in the conspiracies of the time against the Empire. But a new movement was already beginning - the rousing of the French poorer classes, which was to stir the workingmen of the two hemispheres, and Elisée participated in the birth of this movement. From 1865 on, he had already belonged to the International Workingmen's Association; he identified himself with this movement from the time of the first meetings by which it was formed in 1864; and long before the Alliance of Bakunin was founded Elisée already belonged to the secret association also founded by Bakunin in Italy in 1864; and known as the International Fraternity, an association dissolved in 1869. In fact Elisée was a Communist long before the foundation of the International."
During the Siege of Paris (1870–1871) Reclus served in the National Guard. During this period he published articles in support of the Paris Commune. He was arrested on 5th April, 1871. Found guilty of offences against the government, in November he was sentenced to be deported to New Caledonia for life. After international pressure, from scientists such as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, this was changed in January 1872 to perpetual banishment from France.
Reclus moved to Geneva where he developed his ideas on anarchism: "The community of workers, have they the right to a partial re-appropriation of the collective produce? Without a doubt. When the revolution can't be made in its entirety, it must be made at least to the best of its ability. The isolation individual, has he a right to a personal re-appropriation of his part of the collective property? How can it be doubted? The collective property being appropriated by a few, why shouldn't it be taken back in detail, when it can't be taken back as a whole? He has the absolute right to take it - to steal, as it's said in the vernacular." Reclus once wrote; "As long as social injustice lasts we shall remain in a state of permanent revolution."
Élisée Reclus was not a supporter of the campaign to obtain the vote: "To vote is to abdicate. To name one or several masters for a short or long period means renouncing one’s own sovereignty. Whether he becomes absolute monarch, constitutional prince or a simple elected representative bearing a small portion of royalty, the candidate you raise to the throne or the chair will be your superior. You name men who are above laws, since they write them and their mission is to make you obey. To vote means being a dupe. It means believing that at the ringing of a bell men like you will suddenly acquire the virtue of knowing and understanding everything. Your elected representatives having to legislate on everything, from matches to warships, from the pruning of trees to the extermination of red or black villages, it seems to you that their intelligence grows thanks to the immensity of the task."
According to Samuel Stephenson, while living in Switzerland: "Reclus plunged into the writing of a 19-volume geographical work covering the whole world, entitled Nouvelle géographie universelle. It was finally completed and published in 1894. As an interesting side-note, Reclus is purported to have initiated the "Anti-marriage movement" from his residence in Geneva in 1882. After the publication of the Nouvelle géographie universelle, Reclus moved to Brussels, Belgium where he took up a job as professor of comparative geography at the New University of Brussels. Reclus also engaged in lecture tours, attending the Edinburgh Summer Meetings of 1893 and 1895, among others."
Havelock Ellis pointed out: "Élisée Reclus was one of the first to show that savage beliefs and customs, however outrageous or fantastic they may appear from the civilized point of view, have a demonstrable reasonableness and a justifiable morality when studied in connection with their environment. His scientific methods do not quite satisfy the more exact requirements which are now made in this branch of science, but the spirit and attitude of his work is that which now marks all research having as its end the unravelling of the savage mind. From the literary side the defects of strict method in Élisée Reclus's ethnographic work were a distinct advantage. He was not only a scholar and a man of science, but also something of an artist. His literary style was admirable. He loved the rich and expressive language of the sixteenth century, and his writings show how profitably a modern man may enrich his vocabulary by a judicious study of Montaigne and the other great masters of that age."
Anne Cobden-Sanderson compared his work to the achievements of William Morris and Peter Kropotkin: "They saw the world as it is today with all its injustice and cruelty, its want of harmony and beauty, but they never lost the vision of what the world might be, when humanity would rise in freedom to the moral and spiritual heights, which existing conditions now make unattainable. Elisée Reclus had the strength of character, the power of endurance and the vision of a Prophet of old. He came to us in London anxious to find support for the lately established New University at Brussels, but the idea which such a University represented, received little support in England where people are satisfied to continue on old conservative lines, leaving it for progressive thinkers to work alone on independent lines. Elisée Reclus' sympathy extended to the animal world, and he was and remained a convinced and practicing vegetarian."
Élisée Reclus died in Torhoult, Belgium, on 4th July 1905.
You ask a man of good will, who is neither a voter nor a candidate, to reveal his ideas on the exercising of the right to suffrage.
You haven’t given me much time to answer, but since I have quite clear convictions on the subject of the electoral vote, what I have to say to you can be formulated in a few words.
To vote is to abdicate. You name men who are above laws, since they write them and their mission is to make you obey.
To vote means being a dupe. Your elected representatives having to legislate on everything, from matches to warships, from the pruning of trees to the extermination of red or black villages, it seems to you that their intelligence grows thanks to the immensity of the task. History teaches you that that the contrary is the case. Power has always made mad, and speechifying makes stupid. It is inevitable that mediocrity prevails in sovereign assemblies.
To vote means evoking treason. Voters doubtless believe in the honesty of those to whom they grant their votes, and they are perhaps right the first day, when the candidates are still in the throes of their first love. But every day has its tomorrow. As soon as the setting changes, men change with it. Today the candidate bows before you, and perhaps too deeply. Tomorrow he will stand upright, and perhaps too tall. He begged for votes and he will give you orders. When a worker becomes a supervisor can he remain what he was before obtaining the boss’ favor? Doesn’t the fiery democrat learn to bow his head when the banker deigns to invite him to his office, when the king’s valets do him the honor of conversing with him in the antechambers? The atmosphere of these legislative bodies is unhealthy: you are sending your representatives into a corrupting milieu. Don’t be surprised that they leave it corrupted.
So don’t abdicate, don’t place your fate in the hands of men who are necessarily lacking in capability and future traitors. Don’t vote! Instead of trusting your interests to others, defend them yourselves. Instead of hiring lawyers to propose a future mode of action, act! Occasions aren’t lacking for men of good will. To place upon others the responsibility for one’s own conduct means to be lacking in valor.
Elisée answered to this double current, humanitarian and scientific. In fact Elisée was a Communist long before the foundation of the International (his brother Elie, a convinced Fourierist, published a Fourierist paper during the Empire,) and the great Association of Working Men did nothing beyond offering to the French Communists a new international field of action. Towards the end of the Empire Elisée was in Paris, and had his monumental work, The Earth, published in 1867-68; the first volume of this work, The Continents, placed him immediately in the foremost rank of geographers of our time. Like everything which Elisée has written, this is a work of remarkable beauty. From the be inning to the end the manner of explaining the general ideas, or of describing certain features of Nature, has a force,a beauty, and a gracefulness which, with the exception of Alexander von Humboldt, has no equal in the whole literature of the century. I was telling him once how I was struck in Madrid, as I deeply enjoyed the works of Murillo, with this idea 'Why does the beautiful live for centuries?" "The beautiful?" Elisée replied, "but that is an idea thought out in detail." And since then, every time that I read a page of his, I remembered this definition. Murillo's Madonna would not be beautiful were it not that every detail her hands, her hair, down to the folds of her garment, harmonized with the fundamental idea of the picture the ecstasy of pure love. In the same way a page by Elisée would lose its beauty if the fundamental idea were not so well thought out in its details, that every detail, every secondary idea, comes to frame, to enforce the original idea of a given page, chapter, pamphlet or book.
Trap design for the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa
While there are limited options for chemical-free Arachnid pest control, glue-traps are one suitable alternative to pesticides. The effectiveness of several three-dimensional glue-trap shapes for trapping the brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik (Araneae: Sicariidae), was investigated using four novel glue-trap shape designs, which were compared to an existing design currently on the market. These four novel and one standard shape designs were tested using pairwise comparisons. The most preferred trap design was a flat glue-trap with no covering. Although this type of trap was most efficient for capturing L. reclusa, it can pose risks in homes with children and pets for obvious reasons. Among the traps with coverings, the vertical strut trap was most preferred by the spiders, and should perhaps be the trap of choice for homeowners with children and pets.
Side measurements of traps. High…
Side measurements of traps. High quality figures are available online.
X-shaped strut design. High quality…
X-shaped strut design. High quality figures are available online.
Vertical strut design. High quality…
Vertical strut design. High quality figures are available online.
Vertical struts with horizontal bar…
Vertical struts with horizontal bar design. High quality figures are available online.
The History of Cities
The natural attractive force of the soil tends normally to distribute human beings rhythmically across the entire earth. In the modern period, we encounter a seemingly opposing force that concentrates hundreds of thousands or even millions of people in certain circumscribed areas surrounding markets, palaces, forums, and parliaments. Towns were already of considerable size at the outset of the age of railroads. Now, they develop into immense cities, vast agglomerations of aligned houses, crisscrossed by an infinite network of streets, alleyways, boulevards, and avenues. During the day, a grayish dome of smoke hangs over them, while at night a glow radiates outward, illuminating the sky. People were astounded by the Babylons and Ninevehs of ancient times. However, our modern Babylons, which are both cursed and celebrated, are much larger, more complex, and more teeming with humanity and gigantic machinery. Rousseau, deploring the degradation of so many country people who disappeared into the big cities, calls them “abysses” that swallow up humanity, whereas Herder sees in them “the entrenched camps of civilization.” And here is how Ruskin judges them, attacking above all the largest if not the most hideous of today’s cities, the capital of the immense British Empire:
The first of all English games is making money. So all that great foul city of London there,—rattling, growling, smoking, stinking,—a ghastly heap of fermenting brickwork, pouring out poison at every pore,—you fancy it is a city of work? Not a street of it! It is a great city of play very nasty play, and very hard play, but still play. It is . a huge billiard table without the cloth, and with pockets as deep as the bottomless pit but mainly a billiard table, after all.
All the railing against cities by their critics is justified, as are all the encomiums of those who glorify them. How much lifeblood has gone to waste or even been destroyed by hatred, in these cities of foul air, deadly contagion, and chaotic struggle! But is it not also out of these confluences of humanity that new ideas have burst forth, new works have been born, and the revolutions that have delivered humanity from its gangrenous senility have erupted? “There is an infernal vat upon the earth,” proclaims Barbier. And for his part, Hugo glorifies this same Paris in enthusiastic verse: “Paris is the mother city! . Where generations come / To feed themselves with ideas!”
The divergent tendencies of cities toward both good and evil is prefigured in the passions and will of those who flee the small towns and countryside for the big city, sometimes finding there a larger life, sometimes decline and death. But in addition to these bold forerunners who proceed resolutely toward some modern Babylon, we must count those—and they are legion—who are drawn toward centers of population and deposited there like alluvium carried by the current to be cast upon the beaches. These include peasants evicted from their plot of land for the benefit of a wealthy speculator or at the whim of a lord who decides to turn their fields into a pasture or hunting ground servants who are summoned from the country by the city-dwellers wet-nurses called to breast-feed infants in place of their mothers workers, soldiers, employees, and civil servants who are transferred to the big city and, in general, all those who in obedience to their masters, or indeed to that most imperious of masters, economic necessity, inevitably swell the urban population.
How pleasant are the words of the moralistic landowners who advise the country people to remain attached to the land, while by their actions they uproot those very peasants and create for them the living conditions that compel them to flee toward the city. Who put an end to the commons? Who reduced and then abolished entirely the rights of usufruct? Who clear-cut the forests and the moors, depriving the peasant of the fuel he needed? Who built walls around property to mark well the establishment of a landed aristocracy? And when large industry was born, did the landowner not abandon the country miller and the humble village artisans? And when the peasant no longer has any communal lands, when he is deprived of his small industries, when all his resources are diminished at the same time that his needs and expenses grow, is his inevitable flight to the city so surprising? The landowner no longer employs full-time agricultural labor, so the worker is ruined by unemployment and forced into exile. When the proprietor needs hands for the grape harvest, he no longer looks to the old tenants of his land, but to the men of the “mobile army”—to the Irish, the Flemish, the “Gavaches,” and to the anonymous workers who come from who knows where, whose birthplace, language, and customs are unknown, and who will soon disappear without leaving a trace.
Thus the immigrants drawn in multitudes toward the maelstrom of the cities obey a law that is more powerful than their own wills. Their own caprice plays only a very subordinate role in generating the force that attracts them. The relatively small number of escapees from the countryside who voluntarily head for the cities can be divided into several distinct groups. Though all may go in search of happiness, personal gain, and greater satisfaction in their emotional lives, the meaning of these ideals varies completely from individual to individual. Many of them succumb to a kind of dread that seems inexplicable. One gazes in amazement at one of their cottages, superbly situated in the mountains of the Jura, the Pyrenees, or the Cévennes. The legal owner has allowed it to fall into ruin, even though it seems to possess all the qualities that would cause one to cherish it. Alongside the dwelling rises the ancestral tree, shading the roof. Nearby, a spring of pure water gushes forth from an undulation in the meadow. Everything that can be seen from the threshold—the garden, the meadow, the fields, the groves—belonged to the family, and evidently still does. But the family now consists only of two elderly persons trying to devote their remaining energies to the farming and the household chores. In spite of this, everything perishes. The marsh encroaches on the meadow, weeds invade the paths and the flowerbeds, the harvest shrinks from year to year, and the roofs of the barns and granaries cave in. When the old people are gone, the house will collapse. But do they not have a single family member—a son, a grandson, or nephew—who might continue the work of their ancestors, as they themselves do? Yes, they have a son, but he despises the land. He has become a policeman in some distant town, taking pleasure in rounding up drunks and handing out tickets. When his parents die, he will not know what to do with the ancestral fields. They will fall fallow and a great landlord will purchase them, or rather get them for a song, to round out his hunting grounds.
If these were the only causes of the remarkable expansion of cities, they would become nothing more than social cancers, and one might justly curse them, as the Hebrew prophets once cursed ancient Babylon. Growing by the day or even by the hour, like octopuses extending their long tentacles into the countryside, these cities indeed seem to be monsters, gigantic vampires draining the blood from men. But every phenomenon is complex. The wicked, depraved, and decadent will consume and corrupt themselves more rapidly in a milieu obsessed with pleasure or indeed fallen into decay. However, there are others with better motives, who wish to learn, who seek opportunities to think, to improve themselves, to blossom into writers or artists or even the apostles of some truth. They turn reverently toward museums, schools, and libraries, and renew their ideals through contact with others who are equally in the thrall of great things. Are they not also immigrants to the cities, and is it not thanks to them that the chariot of civilization continues to move forward through the ages? When cities grow, humanity progresses, and when they shrink, the social body is threatened with regression into barbarism.
Without having studied the question, one might easily imagine that cities are distributed randomly. And in fact, a number of accounts depict the founders of cities leaving to fate the choice of a site on which to settle and build protective walls. The course of the flight of birds, the spot on which a stag was hunted down and taken, or the point at which a ship ran aground determined where a city was to be constructed. Thus the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, is supposed to have been founded according to the will of the gods. In 874, the fugitive Ingolfur came in sight of Iceland and cast into the water the wooden images that served as his household idols. He sought vainly to follow their course, but they eluded him, and he had to establish a temporary camp on the shore. Three years later, he rediscovered the sacred pieces of wood, and moved his settlement to a nearby site, which turned out to be as favorably situated as possible in this formidable “Land of Ice.”
If the earth were completely uniform in relief, in the quality of its soil, and in its climatic conditions, cities would be distributed in geometrical positions, so to speak. Mutual attraction, social instinct, and convenience for trade would have given rise to them at equal distances from one another. Given a region that is flat, that has no natural obstacles, rivers, or ports, that is situated in a particularly favorable manner, and that is not divided into separate political states, the largest city would be constructed precisely at the center of the country. The secondary cities would be distributed at equal intervals around it, spaced rhythmically. Each of these would have its own planetary system of smaller towns, and each of these its retinue of villages. On a uniform plain, the interval between the various urban agglomerations should be the normal distance of a day’s walk. The number of leagues that could be covered by the average walker between dawn and dusk—that is to say, between twelve and fifteen, corresponding to the hours of the day—constitutes the usual distance between towns. The domestication of animals, then the invention of the wheel and finally machines have modified, either gradually or abruptly, these early measurements. The gait of the horse, and later the turn of the axle determined the normal distance between the great gathering places of humanity. The average interval between villages is measured by the distance covered by a farmer pushing his wheelbarrow full of hay or grain. A supply of water for the cattle, the convenient transportation of the fruits of the earth—such factors determine the site of the stable, the granary, and the cottage.
In a number of countries that have been populated for a long time, and in which the distribution of the urban population is still in accord with the original distances, one finds beneath the apparent disorder of cities an underlying order of distribution that was clearly determined long ago by the footsteps of walkers. In the “Middle Flower,” in Russia, where railways are a relatively recent creation, and even in France, one can observe the astounding regularity with which the urban agglomerations were distributed before mining and industry came to disturb the natural equilibrium of population. Thus Paris, the capital of France, is surrounded, in the direction of the country’s borders and coastlines, by cities that are second only to itself in importance: Bordeaux, Nantes, Rouen, Lille, Nancy, and Lyons. The ancient Phoenician and later Greek city of Marseilles owes its origins to a different phase of history from that of the cities that were Gallic and then French. Nevertheless, its position corresponds to theirs since it is situated at the Mediterranean extremity of a radius that is twice the distance between Paris and the great urban planets in its orbit. Between the capital and the secondary administrative centers, cities of considerable though lesser importance, such as Orléans, Tours, Poitiers, and Angoulème, were founded. These were established at approximately equal intervals, for they are separated by a double daily traveling distance, that is, between twenty-five and thirty leagues. Finally, halfway between these tertiary centers, modest towns such as Etampes, Amboise, Châtellerault, Ruffec, and Libourne took shape. Their locations marked an average day’s traveling distance. Thus the traveler crossing France found alternately a town that was a simple resting place and a town with all the amenities. The first was adequate for the traveler on foot, while the second was suitable for the rider. On almost all the highways, the rhythmic distribution of cities occurs in the same manner, through a natural cadence regulated by the pace of men, horses, and carriages.
The irregularities in the network of settlements are all explained by such factors as the contour of the land, the course of rivers, and the thousand variations of geography. In the first place, the nature of the soil determines where people choose sites for their dwellings. The village can only spring up where the stalk sprouts. People turn away from barren heaths, masses of gravel, and heavy clays that are difficult to plough, and rush immediately and spontaneously to areas of loose soil that is easy to work. They also avoid low, moist regions, although these have an exceptional fertility. The history of agriculture shows that these soft alluviums repel people because of their unhealthiness. They have been cultivated through collective efforts that only become possible when humanity has advanced considerably.
Terrain that is too uneven and soil that is too arid also fail to attract population, thereby preventing or delaying the establishment of cities. Glaciers, snow, and cold winds expel people, so to speak, from the harsh mountain valleys. The natural tendency is to found cities immediately outside such forbidding regions, at the first favorable spot available—for example, just at the entrance to a valley. Every stream has its riparian city in the lowlands, where the riverbed suddenly widens and divides into a multitude of branches through the gravels. Every double, triple, or quadruple confluence of valleys gives rise to a large agglomeration whose size is proportional, all things being equal, to the volume of water carried by the convergent riverbeds. Could any site for a city be more naturally determined than that of Saragossa, which is in the middle of the course of the Ebro, at the junction of the double valley through which the Gállego and the Huerva flow? Similarly, the city of Toulouse, the metropolis of the Midi of France, occupies a site that even a child could have pointed out as a likely meeting place for peoples, just where the river becomes navigable, below the confluence of the upper Garonne, the Ariège, and the Hers. At the two western corners of Switzerland, Basel and Geneva were built at the crossroads of the great paths followed by migrating peoples. And on the southern slope of the Alps, every valley without exception has at its entrance a guardian town. Powerful cities such as Milan and so many others mark points of geographical convergence. The upper valley of the Po, constituting three-quarters of an immense circle, has at its natural center the city of Turin.
On the lower course of the river the establishment of cities is determined by conditions analogous to those that prevail at the middle. It occurs at the headland of two streams, at the ramification of three or four navigable waterways or natural routes that come together, or at the point on a river where it intersects with natural land routes leading in various other directions. In addition, other groups settle at necessary stopping places, such as rapids, waterfalls, or rocky gorges, where boats drop anchor and where merchandise is transshipped. The straits of rivers and any spots where the crossing from bank to bank is particularly easy are also appropriate for the site of a village or even a town, if there are additional advantages besides the narrowing of the river. If a marked bend in a waterway brings its valley into close proximity to a large center of activity situated in another basin, this can also attract a large number of settlers. Accordingly, Orléans had to be built on the bank of the Loire conducive to expansion toward the north in the direction of Paris, and Tsaritsin is located at the place where the Volga is closest to the Don. Finally, on every river the vital point par excellence is the area around its mouth, where the rising sea stops and supports the upper current and where the smaller boats, carried by the current of fresh water, naturally meet the seagoing vessels coming in with the tide. In the hydrographic organization, this meeting place can be compared to the collar of a tree between the aerial vegetation and the underground root system. This is the normal pattern for the large European tidal seaports such as Hamburg, London, Antwerp, and Bordeaux.
The irregularities of the coastline also affect the distribution of cities. Certain sandy shorelines with little variation, inaccessible to ships except on those rare days of complete calm, are avoided by people from inland as well as by those who sail the seas. Thus the 220-kilometer coastline that runs in a straight line from the estuary of the Gironde to the mouth of the Adour has not a single town other than little Arcachon, which is no more than a simple bathing spot and resort, situated away from the shore within a rampart formed by the dunes of Cape Ferret. Similarly, the impressive barrier islands that follow the Atlantic coast of the Carolinas allow access between Norfolk and Wilmington only to a few poor towns that carry on a hazardous trade with considerable difficulty. In other coastal regions, islands and islets, rocks, promontories, and peninsulas multiply the thousand jagged edges and gashes of the escarpments. These similarly prevent the birth of towns, despite the advantages offered by deep and well-protected waters. Where coastlines are too violent and tempestuous, only a small number of people will be able to settle easily. The most favorable sites are those that have a temperate climate and are accessible from both land and sea, by ships and vehicles of all kinds.
In contrast to the regular coast of the Landes, which is almost devoid of towns and villages, one can point to the Mediterranean coastline of Languedoc between the delta of the Rhone and the mouth of the Aude. In this region the large centers of population are found in closer proximity than they are on average anywhere else in France, even though the density of population per square kilometer is no greater than that of the country as a whole. The explanation for this string of cities is to be found in the geographical features of the countryside. The route that those traveling from Italy used to follow to reach Spain or Aquitaine had to avoid both the steep mountains of the interior and the marshes, salt lakes, and mouths of rivers along the coast. The steep, sparsely populated, and rather inhospitable upland area that borders the mountainous wall of the Cévennes to the south begins in the vicinity of the sea. Historically, movement through the region has thus shifted to a route that follows the Mediterranean coast. On the other hand, trade requires points of access, whether they be the mouth of a river such as the Aude or the Hérault, or else a cove artificially protected by jetties. Such considerations are responsible for the establishment of Narbonne, which enjoyed a period of world power when it was the most populous city of Gaul Béziers, which prospered during the Phoenician period and which remains one of the great agricultural markets of France Agde, the Greek town, which was succeeded in importance by Sête, another town with Hellenic origins and Montpellier, the intellectual capital of the Midi, where the Saracens and the Jews were the precursors of the Renaissance. Beyond, other towns crowd together. The ancient Nîmes, sitting beside its fountain, is linked with the Rhone through the three cities of Avignon, Beaucaire, and Arles.
All natural conditions, including agricultural, geographical, and climatic ones, influence the development of cities, whether for better or for worse. Every natural advantage increases their powers of attraction, and every disadvantage diminishes them. Given the exact same historical environments, the size of cities would be directly proportional to the sum of their natural endowments. However, two cities, one in Africa and the other in Europe, might have similar natural environments yet differ considerably from one another because the context of their historical evolution is so different. Nevertheless, there will be similarities in their destinies. And just as celestial bodies affect one another, neighboring urban centers mutually influence one another. They may either work together because they offer complementary advantages, as is the case with the commercial city of Liverpool and the manufacturing city of Manchester, or harm one another when they each have the same benefits to offer. The latter is the case with Bordeaux, on the Garonne, and Libourne, on the Dordogne, which are situated not far apart, on the two sides of the “Entre-deux-Mers.” Libourne could have offered almost identical services to trade however, its proximity to Bordeaux hurt its chances. Devoured by its rival, it lost virtually all its maritime significance and has no importance today other than as a stopping place for travelers.
Another remarkable phenomenon that should be noted is the ability of geographical forces, much like those of heat and electricity, to act at a distance, producing effects far from their source. Thus a city may rise up on a certain site as the result of various factors that make it preferable to sites closer to that source. One can cite the examples of three Mediterranean ports located where river deltas have created conditions that are particularly appropriate for trading cities. Despite its distance from the Nile, Alexandria serves as the commercial center for the entire river basin, while Venice is the port for the Paduan plain, and Marseilles, for the valley of the Rhone. And though Odessa is twenty kilometers from the mouth of the Dnieper, it still oversees the river’s trade.
In addition to the qualities of the climate and the soil, those of the subsoil sometimes exercise a decisive influence. A city may rise up suddenly at a seemingly inhospitable spot, thanks to the area’s subterranean wealth in building stones, clay for molding and sculpting, chemicals, various metals, and combustible minerals. Thus Potosí, Cerro de Pasco, and Virginia City have sprung up in regions that, apart from the presence of silver deposits, could never have supported a city. Merthyr Tidfil, Le Creusot, Essen, Liège, and Scranton are creations of coal mines. Formerly unused forces of nature are now giving birth to new cities in places that were once shunned, such as at the foot of a waterfall, as in the case of Ottawa, or in mountainous areas that are now within reach of electrical lines, as in the valleys of Switzerland. Every advancement by man creates points of vitality in unexpected places, much as a new organ creates its own nerve centers. What rapid changes in the distribution of cities are in store when man will have become the master of aeronautics and aviation! Just as man now seeks new sites along seacoasts that are most capable of handling the coming and going of ships, in the future he will feel as if he were carried like an eagle toward the summits from which his view can embrace the infinity of space.
To the degree that the sphere of human consciousness expands and interactions occur across much greater distances, cities become members of a greater organism. To the particular advantages that caused their birth, they add assets of a more general nature that may allow them to play a major role in history. Thus Rome, Paris, and Berlin have never ceased to gain new causes of growth, including growth itself. Can we not say this of London, today the largest city in the world? The principal cause of its prosperity is its location as a port, being situated at the head of maritime navigation of the Thames. This has allowed the city, which became the capital of the United Kingdom, to develop various assets that might otherwise have remained mere possibilities, never to be realized. Thus, advancing further and further in relation to the rest of the world, London has ended up becoming the central point that is on the whole most easily accessible from every corner of the earth.
As cities develop, it often happens that the growth or decline of these great organisms moves irregularly, by fits and starts caused by rapid historical change. To take the example of London again, one can see that at the outset, the local advantages of the city, while having a certain importance, could not in themselves explain the rank that it has achieved among the world’s cities. Many conditions were most favorable to London in helping it prevail in its struggle with other English cities for survival. It is located on a plain that is clearly bordered on the north by protective hills. It is on the banks of a great river and at the confluence of another smaller waterway. And it is positioned at the very point where the rise and fall of tides facilitates the alternation of navigational direction and the loading and unloading of merchandise. However, these local advantages would never have realized their true value had the Romans not chosen this site as the central convergence of the routes extending in every direction across the southern half of the great island. The British Rome could only rise up on the site chosen as the center of this network. But when the Roman legions had to abandon Albion and all the “high streets” constructed between the military posts and the country’s port were deserted, Londinium thereby lost all of its importance. It became no more than a simple British village, reduced, like so many others, to dependence on its purely local assets, and for two hundred years it was completely ignored by history. In order for the city to regain its significance, it was necessary that it reestablish its relationship to the continent.
The development of capital cities is to a large extent artificial. Administrative favors, the demands of courtiers and courtesans, civil servants, police, soldiers, and the self-interested multitude that crowds around the “ten thousand at the top,” give capitals certain peculiar qualities that that prevent them from being studied as typical urban centers. It is easier to comprehend the life of those cities whose histories depend almost entirely on their geographical environment. No study is more fruitful than the biography of a city whose appearance, even more than its historical records, allows one to observe the successive changes that have unfolded from century to century, following a certain rhythm.
In the mind’s eye one can visualize the huts of the fisherman and gardener beside one another. Two or three farms are scattered across the landscape and a millwheel turns under the weight of the tumbling water. Later, a watchtower rises upon the hill. On the other side of the river, the prow of a ferry touches the shore, and another hut is built. Beside the boatman’s cottage, an inn and a shop beckon travelers and passers-by. Then a market rises up on the leveled terrace nearby. A widening path, which is increasingly beaten by the footsteps of men and animals, descends from the plain to the river, while a winding trail cuts through the hillside. Future roads begin to take shape in the trodden grass of the fields, and houses occupy the four corners of the crossroads. The chapel becomes a church, the watchtower a fortified castle, a barracks, or a palace. The village grows into a town and then a city.
The correct way to study an urban agglomeration that has gone through a long period of historical development is to examine it in detail, paying careful attention to the conditions of its growth. One should begin with the place that was its cradle, a site almost always consecrated by legend, and end with today’s factories and garbage dumps.
Each city has its unique individuality, its own life, its own countenance, tragic and sorrowful in some cases, joyful and lively in others. Successive generations have left each with its distinctive character. And each constitutes a collective personality whose impression on each separate person may be good or bad, hostile or benevolent. But the city is also a very complex individual, and each of its various neighborhoods is distinguished from the others by its own particular nature. The systematic study of cities, which examines both their historical development and the social values expressed in their public and private architecture, allows one to judge them as one judges individuals. One can note the dominant elements in a city’s character and judge the extent to which its influence has on the whole been either useful or detrimental to the progress of the populace that lives within its sphere of activity. Many cities are quite obviously devoted to work, but some of these differ markedly from others, according to whether local businesses operate in a normal or a pathological manner: whether they develop in conditions of peace, relative equality, and mutual tolerance, or whether they are instead carried away by the turmoil of furious competition, chaotic speculation, and brutal exploitation of the working class. Some cities can be seen immediately to be banal, bourgeois, routine, lacking in originality, and lifeless. Others are clearly designed for domination and overwhelm the surrounding countryside. They are tools of conquest and oppression, and on seeing them one experiences feelings of spontaneous horror and dread. Other cities seem completely antiquated even in their modern sections. They are places of shadow, mystery, and fear, where one feels overcome by feelings of another age. On the other hand, some cities seem eternally young. They inspire joy, their humblest structure has originality, the homes are cheerful, and the inhabitants have a poetic air and contribute to humanity their own, unique way of life. Finally, there are all the cities that have many faces, in which each social class is found in distinct neighborhoods that reflect its condition, and where attitudes and language change only slowly over the centuries. There are so many unhappy places that would make one weep!
The differences between cities are exhibited clearly in their respective modes of growth. Cities extend their suburbs outward along the highways, like tentacles that reach out in the direction of the greatest land commerce. Similarly, if a city runs along a river, its growth extends along the banks, where the boats anchor and unload. There is sometimes a striking contrast between two neighborhoods along a river that seem equally suited for human habitation, but which differ markedly because of the direction of the river’s current. Thus, considering the city of Bordeaux spatially, one would conclude immediately that the real center of population should be on the right bank of the river, at a spot where the houses of the small suburb of la Bastide rise up. But here there is a large bend in the Garonne, and consequently the docks are all located along the left bank, following the more rapid current of the river. The side on which the river truly flows also carries the current of commercial and political activity. The population follows the course of the river and avoids the muddy shores of the right bank. Big business did the rest by taking over the suburb, hemming it in with intersecting circles of railroad tracks and crossing gates and defacing it with sheds and warehouses.
It has often been contended that cities have a tendency to grow westward. This phenomenon, of which there are many cases, can be explained very well in the countries of Western Europe and in those with a similar climate. In these countries the prevailing winds blow from the west. The inhabitants of neighborhoods receiving fresh air are less exposed to health hazards than those living on the other side of the city, where the air is polluted when passing over chimneys, sewers, and many thousands or even millions of human beings. Furthermore, one must remember that the rich, the idle, and the artistic who enjoy contemplating the beauties of the heavens have more occasion to do so at dusk than at dawn. They unconsciously follow the direction of the sun in its westerly movement, and take pleasure in the evening at watching it set among the radiant clouds. Yet how many exceptions there are to this normal tendency of cities to grow in the direction of the sun’s path! The form and contour of the land, the appeal of beautiful sites, the direction of the currents of waterways, and the growth of neighborhoods parasitical on the needs of industry and commerce often draw people of wealth and leisure to parts of the city other than those that lie to the west. Brussels and Marseilles are two examples of such divergence from the normal model.
By the very fact of its growth and development, the urban agglomeration tends to die, like every organism. It is subject to the ravages of time, and one day discovers that it is old, while other cities are rising up, eager to live their own lives. Doubtless, because of the forces of inertia and routine among its inhabitants, and the powerful attraction that a center exerts over surrounding areas, it still maintains certain enduring qualities. But not only is the urban organism subject to the fatal accidents that befall cities as well as men, it is unable to rejuvenate and recreate itself quickly except by means of ever-greater efforts—and even then it may shrink from this continual necessity. The city must enlarge its streets and squares, rebuild, move or raze its walls, and replace old, outmoded structures with new ones adapted to changing needs.
Whereas a new American city is born fully adapted to its environment, a city like Paris, which is old, congested, and polluted, must constantly reconstruct itself. Because of this continuous effort, the city is at a great disadvantage in the struggle for existence, as compared to new cities such as New York and Chicago. It is for similar reasons that in the basins of the Euphrates and the Nile immense cities like Babylon, Nineveh, and Cairo have successively relocated. Thanks to the advantages of its site, each of these cities has retained its historical importance, at least to some degree. However, they all found it necessary to abandon certain antiquated quarters and move further on in order to avoid the debris, not to mention the stench emanating from garbage piles. In general, the only inhabitants of the site that was forsaken when the city moved on are those in the graves.
Other causes of the death of cities, more decisive because they arise from historical development itself, have struck many formerly famous cities. Conditions similar to those that gave birth to the city have been the cause of its inevitable destruction. Thus the replacement of one highway or crossroads by other roads that are more convenient can result in the elimination of a city that owed its existence to transportation. Alexandria ruined Pelusium. Cartagena in the West Indies returned Portobello to the solitude of the forest. The requirements of commerce and the suppression of piracy have changed the location of many cities built on the rocky coast of the Mediterranean. Once they were perched on rugged hills and encircled by thick walls to defend them from warlords and privateers. Now they have come down from their rocky heights and extend along the seashore. Everywhere the borgo has become a marina. The Piraeus has succeeded the Acropolis.
In our authoritarian societies, in which political institutions have often given preponderant influence to a single will, it has sometimes happened that the whims of a sovereign have placed cities in areas in which they would never have grown up spontaneously. Once established in such unnatural environments, they have only been able to develop at the cost of an enormous loss of vital energy. Thus cities such as Madrid and St. Petersburg were built at great expense, though the original huts and hamlets, left to themselves without the actions of Charles the Fifth and Peter the Great, would never have become the populous cities that they are today. Although these cities were created by despotism, because of men’s collective labor they are nevertheless able to live as if they had a normal origin. Though the natural features of the landscape did not destine them to be centers of population, they have become so because of the convergence of highways, canals, railways, transportation links, and intellectual exchanges. Geography is not an unchanging thing, but rather something that makes and remakes itself constantly. It is continually modified by the actions of men.
Today it is no longer such Caesars who build capitals they have been succeeded by powerful capitalists, speculators, and presidents of financial syndicates. Construction covering wide areas rises up in just a few months, laid out beautifully and provided with excellent facilities even the schools, libraries, and museums lack nothing. If the choice of sites is wise, these new creations quickly enter the mainstream of life. Thus Le Creusot, Crewe, Barrow on Furness, Denver, and La Plata have taken their place as centers of population. But if the site is poorly chosen, then the city dies along with the special interests that gave birth to it. Cheyenne, no longer the final stop on the railway, sends its little houses further down the line, and Carson City disappears when the silver mines that attracted people to the forbidding desert around it are exhausted.
Not only do the whims of capital sometimes give rise to cities that are doomed by the general interests of society they also destroy many communities whose inhabitants would be quite content to continue to live there. Do we not see, on the outskirts of many large cities, rich bankers and landowners increasing their domain each year by hundreds of hectares, systematically changing cultivated land into plantations or parks for pheasants or large game? They level whole hamlets and villages to replace them with widely scattered caretakers’ huts.
One should mention, among the cities that are partially or entirely artificial and do not fulfill the real needs of industrial societies, those cities created for war, or at least those built in recent times by large centralized states. This was not the case when the city included the entire tribe or constituted the natural core of the nation. It was then absolutely necessary for defense to build ramparts that followed exactly the exterior outline of the neighborhoods, and to build watchtowers at the corners. In this period, the citadel, where all the citizens took refuge in times of grave danger, also served as the temple, and was built at the summit of the guardian hill, a monument made sacred with statues of the gods. In the case of cities like Athens, Megara, and Corinth, which consisted of two separated sections, it was necessary to protect the connecting road with long parallel walls. The arrangement of the fortifications was determined by the nature of the landscape and blended in a harmonious and picturesque manner with the countryside.
But in our day of extreme division of labor, in which military forces have become practically independent of the nation and no civilian would dare to interfere in questions of strategy, most of the fortified cities have extremely ugly contours. They have not the slightest attunement to the undulations of the landscape but instead cut up the landscape along lines that are offensive to the eye. The Italian engineers of the Renaissance, and later Vauban and his emulators, at least tried to design the outline of their fortified sites with the goal of perfect symmetry. Some of their works take the form of a starred cross with rays and gems. The white walls of their bastions and redans contrast consistently with the calm quietude of the shady countryside. But our modern sites no longer aspire to beauty. This goal never enters the minds of the builders. Indeed, a mere glance at the map of a fortified town shows it to be ugly, hideous, and in complete conflict with their environment. Rather than embracing the contours of the land and freely extending its arms into the countryside, it seems as if its limbs are amputated and its vital organs stricken. Just look at the sad outward appearance of cities such as Strasbourg, Metz, and Lille! The latter is so narrowly confined within its ramparts that it had to overflow, so to speak, these military restraints. Roubaix and Tourcoing adjoin the fortified center, and today an attempt is made to merge the three elements into a harmonious whole by means of wide boulevards. Despite its beautiful buildings, its graceful promenades, and the charm of its people, Paris is another city that is marred by a harsh ring of fortifications. If the city had been freed from this unpleasant oval of broken lines, it would have grown organically, in an aesthetically pleasing and rational manner. It would have followed the more elegant contours given to it by life itself.
Another cause of ugliness in our modern cities is the invasion of large manufacturing industries. Almost every urban agglomeration is darkened with one or two areas that bristle with stinking smokestacks and are crisscrossed by gloomy streets lined with hulking structures whose walls are either completely blank or are riddled with countless depressingly uniform windows. The ground shakes under the weight of trucks and freight trains and from the effects of machinery in motion. There are so many cities, especially in young America, where the air is almost unbreathable, where everything that one encounters—the soil, the roads, the walls, the sky— seems to exude mud and soot! One can only recall with horror and disgust a mining community like the endlessly winding Scranton, whose seventy thousand inhabitants lack even a single hectare of filthy grass or sooty foliage to soothe their eyes after all the hideousness of the factory. Or consider the enormous Pittsburgh, with its semi-circular crown of elevated districts that flame and fume. Although the natives claim that the streets have become cleaner and the view clearer since the introduction of natural gas in the factories, can one imagine a filthier atmosphere? Other less blackened cities are still almost as hideous because of the railroads, which have taken over streets, squares, and walkways, and send locomotives snorting and hissing by, scattering the crowds in their path. In fact, some of the most beautiful sites on earth have been desecrated. Thus in Buffalo people try in vain to walk along the banks of the superb Niagara River, running into foundries, railway crossings, muddy canals, piles of gravel and garbage, and all the other refuse of the city.
Barbarous speculation has also ruined the streets by creating subdivisions on which contractors build large districts, planned beforehand by architects who have never even visited the site, much less gone to the trouble of consulting the future inhabitants. They erect a Gothic church for the Episcopalians, a Romanesque structure for the Presbyterians, and finally a sort of Pantheon for the Baptists. They lay out the streets in squares and diamonds, varying bizarrely the geometrical design of the public squares and the style of the houses, while religiously saving the most valuable corners for the most unsavory drinking establishments. These are contrived cities that are based on the most banal concepts and that always betray in some manner the ostentatious arrogance of their creators.
In any case, every new city immediately constitutes, by its configuration of dwellings, a collective organism. Each cell seeks to develop in perfect health, as is necessary for the health of the whole. History demonstrates that sickness is no respecter of persons the palace is in danger when the plague rages through the slums. No municipality can ignore the importance of the thorough rehabilitation of the city through street cleaning the establishment of parks with lawns, flowers, and large shade trees the rapid disposal of all refuse and the supply of an abundance of pure water to every house in every neighborhood. In this regard, the cities of the most advanced countries are in friendly competition to test and put into practice various procedures to improve cleanliness and convenience. It is true that cities, like states, have rulers whose milieu induces them to place their own self-interest above everything else. We have nevertheless achieved a great deal if we know what can be done so that some day the urban organism will function automatically to provide food, pure water, heat, light, energy, and ideas to distribute equipment and to dispose of useless or harmful materials. This ideal is still far from being realized. Still, many cities have already become healthy enough so that the average quality of life exceeds that of many rural areas in which the inhabitants constantly breathe the odor of rot and manure, and remain in primitive ignorance of basic hygiene.
The level of consciousness present in urban life is also expressed in a concern for art. Like Athens in ancient times, and like Florence, Nuremberg, and the other free cities of the Middle Ages, every modern city seeks to beautify itself. Even the most humble village has a bell tower, a column, or a sculptured fountain. But how sad and dreary is this art in general, concocted by highly certified professors under the supervision of a committee of incompetents whose pretentiousness is directly proportional to their ignorance. True art is always spontaneous and can never adapt itself to the dictates of a public works commission. These smallminded city council members often proceed in the style of the Roman General Mummius, who enthusiastically commanded his soldiers to repaint every damaged picture. They imagine that symmetry will achieve beauty, and think that identical reproductions will give their towns a Parthenon or a St. Mark’s. In Europe we have a city whose very buildings render it preeminently banal—namely, the vast city of Munich, which contains many scrupulous imitations of Greek and Byzantine monuments, masterpieces that lack their appropriate environment, atmosphere, soil, and people.
Even if the imitators were able to produce monuments that were exact copies of their models, their works would be no less contrary to nature. A building can be understood only in relation to the conditions of time and space that gave rise to it. Each city has its own life, its particular qualities, its distinct countenance. With what great reverence architects should look upon it! It is an assault on the collective personality embodied in the city to destroy its individuality in order to litter it with unimaginative structures and monuments that clash with its present character and its past history! The true art is to adapt the contemporary city to the demands of modern labor while preserving all the picturesque, unique, and beautiful qualities it has inherited from past centuries. We must learn how to sustain the life of the city and endow it with perfect health and utility, in the same way that loving hands restore the well-being of a sick person.
Thus in Edinburgh, intelligent men who are at once artists and scientists have undertaken the restoration of the splendid thoroughfare called High Street, which extends from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, joining the two main sections of the old city. On the departure of King James for England, it was abandoned immediately by all the parasites of the court: chamberlains, soldiers, pleasure-seekers, purveyors, and lawyers. This avenue of sumptuous mansions then had new residents, for the poor moved in, doing their best to adapt the huge rooms by dividing them up with crude partitions. Two hundred years after the desertion of the street, it had become a collection of hovels with foul-smelling courtyards and tiny rooms infested with fever. The populace, clothed in filthy rags and constantly covered with mud, consisted in large part of the infirm, the scrofulous, and the anemic. The elegant vices of the court were succeeded by the most repugnant public ones. It is these awful cesspools that the renovators have attacked, gradually transforming each house, reinstalling the wide staircases, restoring the large rooms with monumental fireplaces, bringing an abundance of fresh air and light everywhere, supplying plenty of water to even the humblest attic, and adding bas-reliefs and decorative details to the bare walls of buildings. The picturesque qualities of old structures are respectfully preserved, and are even accentuated by means of towers, pinnacles, and belvederes, while the horrible filth and stench are removed. The street that was formerly bedecked with tattered rags now contains balconies decorated with flowers and foliage. The city reemerges fresh and new, just as in a garden a trampled flower springs back with the stem and soil undisturbed.
But in a society in which people cannot depend on having enough bread to eat, in which the poor and even the starving make up a large part of the population of every large city, it is no more than a halfway measure to transform unhealthy neighborhoods if the unfortunate people who previously inhabited them find themselves thrown out of their former hovels only to go in search of new ones in the suburbs, merely moving the poisonous emanations a certain distance away. Even if the council members of a city were without exception men of impeccable taste and every restoration or rebuilding were carried out in a manner that is beyond reproach, there would still exist everywhere the painful and disastrous contrast between wealth and poverty, which is the inevitable result of inequality, the antagonism that cuts the social body in half. The counterpart to the arrogantly imposing neighborhoods is the sordid dwellings that, behind their low and leaning outer walls, conceal slimy courtyards and unsightly piles of stones and scraps of wood. Even in cities in which the administrators try to veil all these horrors hypocritically by hiding them behind decent whitewashed fences, the misery breaks through nonetheless. Behind them, death carries out its work even more cruelly than elsewhere. Is there among our modern cities a single one that does not have its Whitechapel or its Mile End Road? As beautiful and imposing as an urban agglomeration may be in its entirety, it always has its open or hidden vices, its defects, and its chronic sicknesses. These will lead inevitably to death if healthy blood does not once again freely circulate throughout the organism.
How very far are so many of today’s cities from such a future state of well-being and beauty. A chart published in the city directory of St. Petersburg for 1892 gives a striking example of the manner in which such a large capital city can consume human lives. Starting with the year 1754, when the population was about 150,000, over the next 126 years the rate of growth increased to the point that there were 950,000 inhabitants. However, the hypothetical rate of change, calculated according to mortality and not taking into account immigration, results in a loss of 50,000. Births do not outnumber deaths even slightly until 1885, a year of extensive sanitation projects. And across the world, how many cities, like Budapest, Lima, and Rio de Janeiro, would be on the road to quick destruction were it not for the people from the country who come to take the place of those who die! If Parisian families die out after two or three generations, is it not the pernicious odor of the city that gets to them? If young Polish Jews fail the military physicals in much greater numbers than young people of other nationalities, should the blame not be placed on the cities that condemn them to stagnate in poverty-stricken ghettos?
And in how many cities does the sky seem to be draped with a funeral veil! On entering a hazy city such as Manchester, Seraing, Essen, Le Creusot, or Pittsburgh, one can see clearly how the works of Lilliputian humans are capable of tarnishing the sunlight and profaning the beauty of nature. If a very minute quantity of coal dust escapes from combustion and produces a continuous layer of haze a fraction of a millimeter in thickness, this suffices, especially if there is fog, to counteract the light of the sun. The impenetrable atmosphere that sometimes weighs on the city of London is justly famous.
Moreover, the cleaning-up of urban centers gives rise to a number of other problems, apart from that of smoke, that should be on the whole easy to solve. Unfortunately, we are far from having found effective and standardized methods for the disposal of sewage and household garbage, and for the purification of sewage water, either by chemical treatment or by its rational use in agriculture, and too many municipalities seem not even to be concerned with such questions. The adoption of road surfaces that produce neither dust nor mud, and, in general, the efficient organization of transportation, also have an important influence on public health.
Many indicators show that the flow of rural population toward the cities could come to a halt or even reverse direction. First of all, the high rent in urban areas naturally causes workers to move to the outer suburbs, and the bosses of industry can only encourage this exodus, since it will lead to a decrease in the cost of labor. The bicycle, the morning trams, and commuter trains have allowed many thousands of factory and office workers to find more affordable housing in an atmosphere that is less polluted with carbonic acid. Thus in Belgium the rural communes in many districts have maintained their population, thanks to the use of “weekly coupons.” In 1900 there were no less than 150,000 workers who spent nights and Sundays in their villages, but traveled even fifty kilometers, at a weekly cost of two francs twenty-five centimes, to work every weekday in a workshop or factory in some distant city. But this is a spurious solution since the head of the family exhausts himself through long journeys, bad meals, and shortened nights of rest, and besides, the villages have the same health and sanitation problems as the cities.
And this is not all. The electricity generated by waterpower tends to replace coal as an energy source, so that factories are scattered along waterways. Thus Lyons, despite the strong attraction of its industry and arts, nevertheless shrinks by several thousand inhabitants each year. This is not because it is becoming less prosperous, but on the contrary, because its rich textile manufacturers and other industrialists have extended their sphere of activity to all the surrounding départements, and even as far as the Alps—anywhere that waterfalls and rapids offer them the energy resources they require.
To judge things correctly, we must recognize that every question of municipal governance is inseparable from the social question itself. Will we see the day when all people without exception can breathe fresh air, enjoy the full sunlight, delight in the pleasant shade, savor the fragrance of roses, and generously provide for their families without fearing that they cannot put food on the table? When this day comes, and only then, cities will be able to realize their ideal and transform themselves in a manner that corresponds exactly to the needs and desires of all. They will finally become perfectly healthy and beautiful organic bodies.
This is the avowed goal of the Garden City. Indeed, intelligent industrialists and innovative architects have succeeded in creating in England, where urban blight has been the most hideous, a certain number of centers in which conditions are equally healthy for all, including the poor as much as the rich. Port Sunlight, Bourneville, and Letchworth certainly offer a pleasant alternative to the slums of Liverpool, Manchester, and similar cities. The low mortality rates for these new towns rival those of the most opulent neighborhoods of our great capitals—only ten to twelve deaths annually per thousand inhabitants. But it is still the privileged who live in the Garden Cities, and the good will of all the philanthropists in the world is not sufficient to conjure away the antagonism that exists between Capital and Labor.
Long before these experiments of our own day, we find in many villages of our ancestors touching evidence of the quest for a beauty that could only be satisfied by the creation of a harmonious whole. One can cite notably the communities of the Polabians, a people of Slavic origin who live in the valley of the Jeetze, a branch of the Elbe in Hanover. All the houses are spaced around a central oval plaza containing a small pond, a grove of oaks and lime trees, and some stone tables and benches. Each dwelling is dominated by a high gable supported by a projecting framework. Its facade is turned toward the plaza, and above the door there is an inscription with moral and biographical import. The greenery of their rear gardens joins together to form a beautiful circle of trees, interrupted only by the road linking the plaza with the highway. Along this main route connecting the village with the others, one finds the church, the school, and the inn.
The density of population in certain big cities, notably certain neighborhoods of Paris, has reached a level of over a thousand inhabitants per hectare. Prague is even more crowded. The swelling human population seems to have reached its greatest concentration in New York, which in 1896 had a density of 1860 persons per hectare over a total area of 130 hectares. Except where the military engineers have created zones around cities where dwellings are prohibited, the countryside is covered with houses and villas. In addition, the farmers are drawn toward their natural center, moving in ever closer to what is now a continuous mass of urban development and creating in the surrounding area a ring of dense population. Left with diminishing space for their fields and farmhouses, they are forced into more and more intensive labor. Shepherds become farmers, and farmers in turn become gardeners. Demographic maps show clearly the progression of this phenomenon, in which one finds an annular distribution of rural population turning to horticulture. Thus the city of Bayreuth is encircled by a zone with a population density of 109 persons per square kilometer. Around Bamberg, the density reaches 180, even though the terrain onto which this mass of people is crowded was originally of little value. As a mixture of sand and peat, it was only suitable for growing conifers nevertheless, it has been transformed into garden soil of unsurpassed quality. In the Mediterranean region, one finds that the love of the city does not so much increase the population of the countryside around the cities as depopulate it. The great privilege of participating in the discussion of the public interest has traditionally turned everyone into a city-dweller. The appeal of the agora, as in Greece, and of municipal life, as in Italy, draws the inhabitants toward the central square, where the affairs of the community are discussed, more often along the public walkways than in the resounding chambers of the city hall. Accordingly, in Provence the small landowner, rather than living among his fields, remains an inveterate city-dweller. Though he might even own a farmhouse or a country house, he refuses to live on his rural estate, but rather resides in the city, from which he can go for an outing to visit his fruit trees and do the picking. The work in the countryside is for him a secondary concern.
It is quite natural that many should react against the awful swallowing up of people, the wholesale degradation of character, and the widespread corruption of the naïve souls who brew in the “infernal vat.” Accordingly, some reformers call for the destruction of cities and the voluntary return of the entire population to the countryside. In an enlightened society that resolutely wills a renaissance of humanity by means of a life in the open country, such a revolution, the likes of which have never been seen before, would surely be a real possibility. If we estimate the area of the habitable lands that are pleasant and healthy at only one hundred million square kilometers, then two houses per square kilometer, with seven or eight occupants in each, would be adequate to house all of humanity. However, human nature, whose first law is sociability, would never adapt to such a dispersion. Certainly, we need the rustling of trees and the babbling of brooks, but we also require association with other people and, indeed, with all people. The entire globe becomes for humanity a great city that alone can satisfy us.
It cannot be assumed that today’s immense agglomerations of structures have reached the greatest expansion imaginable. The truth is quite to the contrary. In countries of recent colonization, where people group together spontaneously according to modern interests and tastes, cities have much greater populations proportionally than those of the old countries of Europe. Some of the large centers of growth have as much as a quarter, a third, or even half the population of the entire country. In relation to the area from which it draws its population, Melbourne is a larger city than London because the surrounding population is more mobile and because it has not been necessary, as in England, to tear it away from the countryside in which it was rooted for centuries. However, this unusual concentration of population found in Australian cities stems to a large degree from the division of the land in the countryside into vast estates in which the immigrants were unable to find a place. They were driven from the latifundia toward the capitals. In any case, the process of transplantation becomes progressively easier, and London will be able to continue its growth with a smaller expenditure of energy. At the beginning of the twentieth century, that city has only a seventh of the population of the British Isles. It is not at all impossible that some day it will have a third or a fourth of the inhabitants, especially since London is not only the center of attraction in Great Britain and Ireland, but also the most important commercial center in Europe and a large part of the colonial world. We should not be surprised at the imminent development of urban agglomerations of ten to twenty million inhabitants in the lower Thames valley, at the mouth of the Hudson, or in other centers of attraction. Indeed, we should prepare ourselves to accept such phenomena as a normal part of social life. The growth of great foci of attraction cannot be checked until an equilibrium is established between the force of attraction of the various centers on the inhabitants of the intermediate spaces. But the movement will certainly not stop then. It will be transformed more and more into a constant exchange of population between cities, a phenomenon that can already be observed and that can be compared to the circulation of the blood in the human body. There is no doubt that this new mode of functioning will give birth to new organisms, and cities, which have already been renewed so many times, will be reborn again with a new character that will correspond to the whole of social and economic evolution.
 John Ruskin, The Crown of Wild Olive (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, n.d.), 28–29.
 Auguste Barbier (1805–82) was a satirical poet and writer, and a member of the French Academy. His poem “La cuve” is a rant against the evils and horrors of urban life. See Auguste Barbier, “La cuve,” in Iambes et poèmes (Paris: P. Mascagna, 1840), 91–92.
 See Victor Hugo, “A l’Arc de Triomphe” (Les voix intérieures), Œuvres poétiques, ed. Pierre Albouy (Paris: Pléiade, 1964), 1:936–48.
 A term applied to immigrants from northern France who settled in the Dropt Valley and around Monségur after the Hundred Years’ War. During the nineteenth century many gavaches came down from the mountains to work as “estivandiers,” or seasonal workers, in wheat-producing areas.
 Labonne, Annuaire du Club alpin, 1886. [Reclus’ note]
 Ingolfur Arnarsson was the first settler of Iceland. After being banished from Norway he set sail for Iceland. He brought along the posts from the high seat, or throne, of his home in Norway. On sighting land, he threw the pillars into the sea and asked the gods to wash them ashore at the appropriate spot for a settlement. He lost sight of the pillars and built a farm on the southeast coast. The posts were finally located along the coast to the west, and the settlement was moved to a spot that was given the Norse name “Reykjavik,” or “Bay of Smoke,” after the geothermal steam that rose there.
 China was traditionally called “the Middle Kingdom” or “the Middle Flower” because of its supposed location at the center of the earth’s surface.
 Gobert, le Gerotype. [Reclus’ note]
 Later Stalingrad (1925–61), and now Volgograd.
 J. G. Kohl, Die geographische Lage der Hauptstädte Europas. [Reclus’ note]
 Gomme, Village Communities, 48, 51 Green, The Making of England, 118. [Reclus’ note]
 This ancient city, now called Tell el-Farama, was one of Egypt’s most important ports.
 Cartagena de Indias is a seaport on the northern coast of Colombia. Portobello, a minor port on the eastern coast of Panama, was once a major center of the Spanish colonial empire. Reclus correctly notes that Portobello declined relative to Cartagena, but it was not because the former was directly displaced by the latter. It declined primarily because the Spanish treasure fleet system, which made it a center of exchange of silver from Peru and goods from Europe, had become obsolete by the eighteenth century. Cartagena’s fortunes were affected to a much smaller degree.
 Reclus overstates his point by using these particular examples. Cheyenne became a boomtown after the Union Pacific Railroad moved into Wyoming but experienced a severe decline when rail service was extended to Colorado, and Denver in particular. Carson City also experienced a boom when the Comstock Lode silver deposits were discovered but lapsed into two decades of depression when the mines were exhausted. This was followed, however, by a new period of boom with the discovery of additional gold, silver, and copper deposits in the area. Much of the history of Western boom towns is outlined in Duane A. Smith’s Rocky Mountain West: Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, 1859–1915 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992). See also Russell R. Elliot’s History of Nevada (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973).
 V-shaped works, usually projecting from a fortified line.
 Mile End Road and Whitechapel are in London’s East End, noted in the nineteenth century for its poverty, crime, and industrial blight, in addition to its vibrant ethnic neighborhoods and radical politics.
 Ch. Dufour, Bulletin de la Soc. Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles, juin–sept. 1895, 145. [Reclus’ note]
 Emile Vandervelde, L’Exode rural. [Reclus’ note]
 The Garden City was an idea popularized by the town planner Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928) and applied in several communities in England. The Garden City was designed to express such values as human scale, efficiency, beauty, and social cooperation. With a park and public buildings at the center, a green belt at the circumference, and extensive public space, the community was to combine the best features of urban and rural life. Howard’s ideas are best known from his book Garden Cities of To-morrow, ed. F.J. Osborn (London: Faber and Faber, 1946). This work was first published in 1898 as Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform.
 The name given to certain East Slavic tribes who settled in northeastern Germany during the late first millennium C.e. The name comes from the Old Slavic po, meaning “on the banks of” and “Laba,” the Slavic name for the Elba.
 Dr. Tetzner, Globus, April 7, 1900. [Reclus’ note]
 Lawrence Corthell, Revue Scientifique, June 27, 1896, 815. [Reclus’ note]
 Chr. Sandler, Volks-Karten, 1. [Reclus’ note]
 Edmond Demolins, Les Français d’aujourd’hui, 106, 107. [Reclus’ note]
 J. Denain-Darrays, Questions diplomatiques et coloniales, Feb. 1, 1903. [Reclus’ note]
Anarchism, geohistory, and the Annales: rethinking Elisee Reclus's influence on Lucien Febvre.
Abstract. It has been hypothesized that the celebrated geographer and anarchist Elisee Reclus was a decisive influence on several concepts that are characteristic of the Annales School, the historical French school of the Annales d'histoire economique et sociale, such as longue duree, material history, space-movement, and geohistory. Yet no systematic research exists on the topic. In this paper, on the basis of textual analysis and new archival materials recently published in France, I argue that Reclus's influence particularly affected the Annales's founder Lucien Febvre, and that it springs from not only Febvre's scholarly interest in Reclus, but also his early engagement in socialist milieus and sympathies for both anarchism and figures like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Finally, I show how these topics could be useful for present debates on critical social theory and radical geographies.
Keywords: Elisee Reclus, Lucien Febvre, anarchism, socialism, geohistory, critical theory
Elisee Reclus (1830-1905), the well-known French geographer and anarchist, was concerned with a historical perspective for which he has sometimes been defined as the forerunner of several historiographical schools of the 20th century, particularly the Annales School, the French school of thought that took shape around the Annales d'histoire economique et sociale, a journal founded in 1929 by Marc Bloch (1882-1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878-1957). It was the journal's 'Great Man', Fernand Braudel (1902-85), who in 1949 launched the concept of 'geohistory' in his masterpiece La Mediterranee et le monde mediterraneen a l'epoque de Philippe II.
Several historians of geography have noticed a correspondence between some of Reclus's ideas and the concepts developed later by the Annales School, namely, material history, world system, social history, longue duree, persistence, space-movement, and rural landscape (Deprest, 2002 Errani, 1984 Lacoste, 1990 Pelletier, 2013), but we have no systematic research either comparing Reclus's corpus with that of the Annales, or exploring the scholarly and political networks that could have allowed the transfer of knowledge between the cited authors.
The present paper is a first attempt to fill this lacuna. My hypothesis is that Reclus's ideas did indeed have both a direct and indirect influence on the thinking that went into the Annales, mainly as a result of the admiration that Febvre felt for Reclus as both a geographer and an anarchist, which in turn was probably the result of Febvre's little-known but well-documented sympathies for Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, revolutionary syndicalism, and left-libertarian thinking. I try to elucidate this problem by analyzing the texts and archives of both authors.
The importance of this work lies in the recent rediscovery of both Febvre and Reclus in different fields of international research, involving central points in current debates on geography, history, and critical social theory. Recent research on Reclus has stressed the links between geographical thinking and anarchism. Here, 1 quote as examples the special issues dedicated to anarchism by Antipode and ACME in 2012, and the session "Demanding the impossible", which took place during the RGS-IBG International Conference in London in 2013. The authors involved in these experiences draw explicitly on a 'genealogy' (Springer, 2013) beginning with Reclus and another early anarchist geographer, Pyotr Kropotkin. According to Marcelo Lopes de Souza (2012), there is also a historical tradition in urban geography, starting from these two authors and leading directly to present debates on autonomy and federalism, inspired by Murray Bookchin and Cornelius Castoriadis (Lopes de Souza, 2012).
At the 3rd International Conference of the Anarchist Studies Network, held in Loughborough in September 2014 and including sessions on geography, (1) several presenters advocated the need for interdisciplinary studies on the transnational and transcultural nature of the concrete anarchist movement, drawing on its anticolonial and postcolonial networks (Anderson, 2007 Hirsch and Van der Walt, 2010), its present cosmopolitanism (Gordon, 2008), and Reclus's legacy (Ferretti, 2013).
I should stress the importance of anarchism, and anarchist geographies, for critical social theory, which has been widely concerned with space in the last few decades (Soja, 1989). One of the first attempts to trace the link between space and critical social theory and, accordingly, to build a critical geography, was the experience of Reclus, Kropotkin, and colleagues, which deserves to be better studied and better known, to better understand the strategic role that geography played, and should play again, in inspiring critical thinking.
Because of recent publication of previously unpublished work in France, Febvre has been rediscovered (Crouzet and Febvre, 2012 Febvre, 2012 Lecuir, 2012) not only as a historian, but also as a socialist concerned with revolutionary syndicalism and with a cosmopolitan construction of French identity, all of which is relevant for the debates on present postcolonial social and cultural problems in France and in its banlieues (Mbembe, 2011).
Aware of the fact that the concept of 'influence' is a very complex and problematic one, I draw on Bruno Latour's idea of 'social influence' (1987 2005) to put forward the hypothesis that the contribution of Reclus, and of the wider intellectual milieu of anarchist geographers, affected Febvre not only through his direct reading and quotation of Reclus's and Kropotkin's writings, but also through the common cultural background of these authors and their role within the French workers' movement during the 19th and 20th centuries.
I also respond to recent arguments for regarding knowledge as a situated phenomenon, as shown by recent research (Livingstone, 2003 Ogborn and Withers, 2010), to understand the different kinds of socialism which were practiced in Paris and Besancon, where Febvre was based when he wrote the articles that I examine in the second part of the paper.
Moreover, Michel Foucault's (1980) concept of'discursive formation' can be invoked to explain the circulation of the ideas which inspired Febvre, not only in his geographical and political writings, but also in his history of mentality, which I argue has been influenced by anarchism, citing the example of Febvre's works on Francis Rabelais.
Although the case study on which I draw is a rather specialist one, it still serves to better understand both Febvre and the epistemological links between anarchism and geography. As is noted by authors like Alan Baker (2003), the Annales School was influential in the formation of anglophone historical geographies, and the most famous of Febvre's disciples, Braudel, played a pivotal role not only in the elaboration of a wide geohistoriography (Mayhew, 2010), but also in the formation of several intellectuals then involved in 'French Theory'. Febvre was also a direct reference for Brian Harley, one of the critics of imperial cartography, who argued: "in accepting that maps can be regarded as an agent of change in history we can draw on the ideas of Lucien Febvre and Henri Martin" (2001, page 233). (1)
In the first part of this paper, I present Reclus's ideas on history according to his final work, L'Homme et la Terre. In the second part, I analyze Febvre's political experience, as well as the quotations and tributes he devoted to Reclus in his works. And in the third part, I advance some hypotheses concerning the direct and indirect influences of Reclus and the anarchist geographers on the Annales, in relation to the school's strong interest in human geography, taking as my main critical framework Marie-Vic Ozouf-Marignier and Nicolas Verdier's concept of croisements et fertilisations (crossbreeding and fertilization) between geography and history (Ozouf-Marignier and Verdier, 2000 2013 Verdier, 2009 2012). Finally, I explain why Febvre is so important for contemporary geographers, showing the relevance of the concepts that he mobilized for contemporary debates on geography.
Reclus, anarchism, and world history
In his last work, L'Homme et la Terre, Reclus tried to build a new field of knowledge called social geography, the definition of which at that time (1905) could be taken as synonymous with 'socialist geography' (Pelletier, 2013). Nevertheless, his six-volume work was not limited to geography, since it was organized chronologically in the form of a world history, from prehistoric times to the contemporary globalizing world.
Such an interdisciplinary approach was clearly announced from the outset in a memorable phrase stating that "Geography is History in space, just as History is Geography in time" (Reclus, 1905a, page 1). This type of statement was not new in the history of geography, but Reclus was the first to try to systematize and apply this principle generally.
The cover image (figure 1) also suggested a symmetrical use of the two disciplines, or specialties, to use the contemporary terminology identified by Claude Blankaert (2006): a man gazing at the earth is surrounded by the two muses of history and geography, Clio and Eugea.
This bringing together of two disciplines also summoned up several noble forebears, like Herodotus, who was defined as follows:
"The father of both geography and history, incomparably superior to all the specialists of today who, in order to conform to who knows what official programs, have made geography an object of disgust and ridicule he was able to render it more attractive than poetry even, because he did not separate man from nature, or mores and institutions from the milieu in which they developed" (Reclus, 1872, page 1).
By 'disgust', Reclus meant his own critique of the traditional teaching of geography, which was based on mnemonic learning of names and numbers, whereas anarchist geographers proposed methods of teaching based on excursions and fieldwork (Kropotkin, 1885).
Reclus was not especially concerned with the boundaries between disciplines, which in France became important only after the institutionalization of geography and its disputes with other fields over professorships and funding (Mucchielli and Robic, 1995). The anarchist geographer included his own discipline within a general "science of milieus, which Hippocrates laid out to his disciples in Athens over two thousand years ago" (Reclus, 1905a, pages 39-40).
Reclus dealt with the concept of the 'rhythms of history', structured by the continuous relationship between humankind and nature, introducing both the concept of environmental history and the future Annales idea of the longue periode. According to Peter Burke (1990), the idea of three rhythms of Mediterranean history (slow, medium, and fast) established by Braudel was one of the decisive innovations of what he called the 'French historical revolution'.
Reclus also tried to build a general periodization of world history, drawing his inspiration from the works of his collaborator and comrade Leon Metchnikoff (1838-88), who in his book La civilisation et les grands fleuves historiques ('Civilization and the great historical rivers') analyzed four cases of civilizations that had sprung from fluvial milieus: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China. In his periodization, Metchnikoff first considered an ancient 'fluvial period', which ran approximately until the Bronze Age, when the different civilizations were not in regular communication with each other he then imagined a 'Mediterranean period', when the two 'Western' civilizations were structurally connected via the Mediterranean Sea, whereas the Indian and Chinese civilizations remained relatively unconnected, as travel and exchanges were more difficult through Central Asia, where a central and unifying sea did not exist. The last period, the 'oceanic phase', corresponds to a modern phase of globalization characterized by European expansion towards the Americas, which reached its peak in the 19th century, according to Metchnikoff, thanks to the Pacific's rising presence in this last phase, the peoples of the entire world were increasingly connected and extra-European ones were playing an ever-greater role. Nevertheless, in laying out his environmental history, Metchnikoff claimed that he did not believe in "some kind of potamic fatalism", as civilizations "were a living synthesis of multiple geographic conditions" (Metchnikoff, 1889, page 364).
Reclus gave a rather different personal version of this periodization in particular, he identified a break between 'ancient history' and 'modern history' at the moment of the Roman Empire's collapse, basing his judgment on the change in the connections between humankind and the environment. In fact, the work the Romans did in this domain was considered the highest level of human domination of nature. According to Reclus, one of the main results of this process was the political unification of the Mediterranean basin as the gravitational center of the entire Western part of the Old World (including regions like Arabia, Persia, and Northern Africa, according to Reclus). Nevertheless,
"the movement in favor of a synthesis was to be followed by one of analysis, a terrifying analysis wherein all nations would be tested as in a crucible before tending once again to a new unity. The different geographic milieus where once more exercising their shaping influence on their inhabitants when barbarous peoples . with no awareness of a common culture, were subjected to their action" (Reclus, 1905b, page 338).
Finally, the highest 'geohistorical' ideal, as Reclus saw it, was universal human unity: this 'postancient' break in the process of human integration would exist only until the 18th century, for between that century and the following, three phenomena occurred that definitively modified human societies, together with their relationship to their environment. These phenomena were the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution of 1789, and globalization. The last of these processes brought peoples increasingly closer together and was described by geographers in Reclus's day as a mobilization and extension of the 'Mediterranean metaphor' (Arrault, 2006) according to these geographers, oceans were assuming a role in global communications akin to the one played by the Mediterranean Sea in antiquity.
A great part of Reclus's arguments dealt with the historical 'movement' of peoples and civilizations, which seems rather close to what we now call 'connected history' or 'world history'. He also tried to discern some general principles in how this movement functioned, citing the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico:
"Do these differences in the general movement of humanity and the particular advance of human groups develop randomly, without laws, or on the contrary with a certain regularity? It does seem that the succession of guiding ideas and the succession of facts springing from them occur with a sort of rhythm, as if a pendulum were governing their alternating shift. Thus Vico, in his Scienza Nuova, showed us human societies evolving through his series of Ages by corsi e ricorsi, that is, by a regular ebb and flow, creating circles in time and forever bringing back the same state of affairs following the end of the cycle. The concept is rather childish in its simplicity, and none of Vico's disciples managed to accept it without making some changes to it. One prefers to use the term 'spiral of civilization', whose endlessly expanding cycles have developed indefinitely over the Ages. However, it must be said that the shape of this spiral is hardly a geometrical one, and each event comes to change the direction of its curve" (Reclus, 1905a, pages 344-346).
Thus, Reclus envisioned an equilibrium between the long term and general rhythms on the one hand, and events and single occurrences on the other. The concept also influenced his idea of anarchism, which he advanced in Evolution, Revolution and the Anarchist Ideal (1885) (L'evolution, la revolution et l'ideal anarchique), stating that revolutions and historical traumas are just steps in the lower process of evolution, leading progressively to higher levels of freedom and equality thanks to the spread of education, propaganda, and a heightened consciousness (Clark and Martin, 2013 Reclus, 1885). What is significant to us today is that Reclus's political principles, in his words, were inspired by the study of history 'in the strict sense of the word', namely, the history of social relations, rather than history of battles or "royal crimes" (Reclus, 1879, page 520) that is, what the historians of the Annales were to call histoire evenementielle, the history of events. Reclus's ideas came close, in this sense, to what we now call 'subaltern histories' (Guha, 1993).
The global scale to which Reclus applied his historical concepts led him to criticize the nationalist, and hence ideological, teaching of history that was being promoted in public schools. He believed that what was needed first for his work in favor of universal brotherhood was the teaching not of national histories but of the history of the whole of humanity, represented by the metaphor of the river basin carrying its waters from opposite shores to the same common sea.
"The first fact that strikes the sincere man in his studies of the contrasting developments of Man and Earth is the definitive unity taking place in the infinite variety of the habitable world's regions. History was once made up of distinct, local and partial histories, which converged on no common point. For the peoples of the West, they gravitated around Babylonia or Jerusalem, Athens or Alexandria, Rome or Byzantium for Asians, they had the distinct centers of Cambaluc, Nanking, Ujjain, Benares or Delhi. Nowadays, history is indeed the history of the whole world. All the sources of the river, once distinct and flowing underground in caves, have united in one bed, and the waters flow in broad daylight. Only in our time can history be said to be 'universal' and applied to the whole family of men. Little local homelands are losing their relative importance in inverse proportion to the growing value of the great world homeland" (Reclus, 1894, page 489).
Thus, world history is instead a geographical history since it also depends on the shifting of its geographical centers, which do not exist in a global situation. That is, according to Reclus, within globalization, "the center is everywhere, the periphery nowhere" (1876, page iv).
One of the results of the globalizing process was the growing melting pot and cultural integration, which Reclus hoped would prove a transition precipitating the end of racism and chauvinism. In terms of history, he insisted on the mixed origins of the ancient Mediterranean civilization, claiming the existence of an original African civilization and stating that "the pride of race, which historians can never be too skeptical of, spawned a widespread prejudice, that African peoples have had no part, as it were, in the general work of civilization. On the contrary, doesn't the history of our progress inevitably bring us back to the Nile basin, on African lands?" (1885, page 32). Reclus also argued that the clash of the Greeks and the Persians opened the way to "an ecumenical world . united in its movements" (Reclus, 1905a, page 458), whereas at the time the presumption of the 'purity' of Hellenic civilization still justified several prejudices about the supposed superiority of Europe (Bernal, 1987).
One of Reclus's efforts was to also include in history what we now call 'people without history' (Wolf, 1982) and incorporate all continents and all ways of life in his universal narrative, which he thought should culminate in the "complete union of the civilized with both the savage and nature" (Reclus, 1908, page 508). Similarly, Reclus seemed to anticipate some themes that prefigure the 'theft of history' articulated by Jack Goody (2006) for instance, he did not consider capitalism a specificity of modern Europe, but expanded the notion in space and time. Specifically, he stated that
"modern people are rather tempted to believe that wars of commercial rivalry are of recent vintage, and that only yesterday the great powers began to dispute distant markets. The Sesostrises, Assurbanipal and the Cambyses were the crowned representatives of the bank and monopolies of the time, as were Dupleix and Clive in India in the last century, and as are, in our century, the powers divvying up Africa" (Reclus, 1905a, page 488).
We are dealing here with some aspects of the movement imagined by Marie-Claire Robic, who stated that French geography "also composes a critical historical knowledge. So it goes with its proposed re-evaluation of the origins of the nation, working on a world the archives overlook, that of peasants and provinces or petty peripheral countries, whereas the history, the official history, of the nation deals with the Court alone" (Robic, 1996, page 363). According to French historians of geography, this led the way for the historical school of the Annales, founded in 1929 by Bloch and Febvre.
Febvre: history, geography, and socialism
The militant dimension of Febvre's historical proposal is well known and reflected, for example, in the title of one of his main theoretical works, Combats pour l'Histoire (Struggles for History). The introduction to this text includes a tribute to several 'true masters', and notably mentions "Reclus and the deep humanity of his New Universal Geography" (Febvre, 1953, page iv).
The Annales's form of history appears as a militant challenge to the 'old history' dealing with events, kings, and battles and is indebted
to Febvre and Bloch's sharp intelligence in constructing the enemy. That is, according to Christophe Prochasson, histoire evenementielle was an "invented enemy, pure and simple" (1997, page 69).
It is not my task here to delve into this question further. I am interested, however, in analyzing the way Febvre built on Reclus to construct his theoretical representation of geography and its disciplinary limits in his masterly La Terre et Involution humaine (published in English translation as A Geographical Introduction to History). This book has been a lasting influence on geographers because of its invention of the categories of possibilism and determinism. These concepts had not been employed in the same way before the publication of La Terre et involution humaine, which, as Febvre saw it, set the French school of Geographie humaine, inspired by Paul Vidal de la Blache, apart from the German anthropogeography founded by Friedrich Ratzel.
According to Franco Farinelli, the difference between possibilism and determinism was a false problem, because "what distinguished Ratzel from Vidal de la Blache was not the contrasting concept of the relationship between environment and human societies. Determinism and possibilism never existed in geography in a pure state" (Farinelli, 1980, page xxiii). According to the Italian geographer, geography has always considered a mix of natural influences and human actions. Accordingly, Febvre's real problem was to establish disciplinary boundaries between geography, history, and sociology, and to do that he invented another enemy, German geography, which was simultaneously environmentalist and characterized by right-wing geopolitics--a very useful target for the future Annales discourse, with its emphasis on 'soil and not State'.
What warrants consideration is the use of Reclus's legacy in this book. It is worth noting, for instance, that the title La Terre et l'evolution humaine recalls the duality of humankind and earth (and of history and geography) that we find in Reclus's major titles, such as L'Homme et la terre, his last work, and La Terre et les homines, subtitle of the New Universal Geography. Another tribute to Reclus appears in the first pages of the book, where we are invited to read "a few good historical dictionaries, two or three trusted manuals, and Elisee Reclus's New Universal Geography, that oft-repudiated Providence [celle Providence si souvent reniee]" (Febvre, 1922, page 19).
In the text we find twelve quotations by the anarchist geographer, and while there are certainly not many in such an extensive work (fewer than there are quotations by Ratzel or Vidal de la Blache, for instance), they are surely significant in a period when almost nobody in France was citing Reclus, who had been quickly classicized and was used only in a very limited way, through allusions and implicit quotations (Arrault, 2005). Febvre, on the contrary, not only quoted Reclus, he engaged with all his major works, demonstrating that he was one of the best connoisseurs of Reclus in French academia at the time. In fact, in his book we find references to all Reclus's major works, and even to a little-known paper by Reclus on the Phoenicians, which had been published in the peripheral journal Bulletin de la Societe Neuchateloise de Geographie (Reclus, 1900). The interesting thing here is that Febvre invoked Reclus against what he considered to be 'German geography' and 'determinism', using quotes to base his arguments on Reclus's own.
Febvre regarded some of Reclus's studies on 'climatic-botanic frameworks' like the Asian steppe as classics, "a description that one does not forget" (Febvre, 1922, page 157), and invoked his authority to justify his claims against environmental determinism.
"Speak not of necessity. Nothing strict, nothing rigid, and nothing mechanical: once more, it is proved that the harmony that is established between the globe and its inhabitants is made up of both analogies and contrasts. 'Like all the harmonies of organized bodies', as Reclus has excellently put it, 'it arises from struggle as much as union, and endlessly wavers around a changeable center of gravity'" (1922, page 209).
This statement recalls both Reclus's reference to Vico and his idea of a dynamic dialectical balance of nature and humankind, which he borrowed from German Naturphilosophie, drawing on the philosophical writings of Lorenz Oken and Friedrich Schelling, writings which interested several geographers and socialists at that time (Tang, 2008). Likewise, Febvre devotes two pages of his chapter on plateaus to quotations from Reclus, stating that Reclus managed to work out a coherent 'geographical type' without lending it a decisive role in human history:
"One quickly realizes that, in his eyes, the importance of plateaus is quite variable according to places and times--and that the role he attributes to them is at certain times purely negative, and at others largely positive . In other words, everywhere, particular cases that have to be treated as such, and individualities that have to be carefully studied in their distinctive characteristics but general rules, not a one a necessary and unique concept of plateau, even less so" (Febvre, 1922, page 231).
What is more problematic is that Febvre uses Reclus to deny Carl Ritter's principle of 'coastal articulation', when we know that Reclus was clearly inspired by Ritter in employing and adapting this concept, and argued that the indentation of the Mediterranean shores favored the circulation of people, goods, and knowledge in the ancient world, and thus influenced the 'path of civilization' (Brun, 2012). Febvre deemed this concept a 'deterministic' one, and cited various passages from Reclus's works on island milieus (Febvre, 1922, pages 250, 265, 267) without considering the whole of the anarchist geographer's output, which nonetheless he showed he knew very well. I suggest that Febvre chose to utilize Reclus because he was a classic authority in his field, though after 1905 little read and little known outside of certain limited circles.
I should note that Febvre, in the same work, invoked as another ally a long-time scholarly and political collaborator with Reclus (Ferretti, 2011b), Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (1842-1921). The Russian anarchist, already quoted by Febvre in his writings on revolutionary syndicalism, was known for his works on the theory of mutual aid (Kropotkin, 1902). According to this theory, in the framework of Darwinian evolutionism, cooperation was no less important than competition as an evolutionary factor (Gould, 1997) it is claimed on scientific (and geographical) grounds that a society organized according to the principles of mutual aid and cooperation--that is, an anarchist society--would be not only just but also feasible.
Febvre quotes Kropotkin's work on the relationship between natural conditions and the population density of a region. Having observed animals in Siberia, the Russian geographer argued that the size of a population inhabiting a region is not determined by the addition of territorial resources, but by the resources available during the harshest periods. Moreover, empirical observation demonstrated that sometimes populations were smaller than the number that a specific territory could support. Thus, Febvre endorsed the analysis Kropotkin gave
"of the very specific reasons for such a fact it is then clear, once more, how quantitative thinking, backed by statistics and with schematic maps or graphic representations, is fallacious and weak in a vast number of cases. This lesson in prudence then is valid not only for zoogeography anthropogeography must take advantage of it moreover, Kropotkin clearly indicates that when he shows us those villages of southeastern Russia, whose inhabitants enjoy a real abundance of food, yet see their populations remain static" (Febvre, 1922, page 173).
The movement from biology to sociology was typical of the human sciences of the time, including Ratzel's anthropogeography (the main target of Febvre's argument) but it also incorporated the idea of mutual aid, which was founded on observing cooperation among plants, animals, and humans, including forms of mutual assistance between different species. What is intriguing here, from the standpoint of the cross-pollination of scientific and political concepts, is that the theory of mutual aid is a classic argument of anarchist propaganda, and Febvre seemed to be perfectly comfortable using it for his own scientific propaganda.
Thus, I suggest that Febvre's interest in Reclus and the anarchist geographers, which was rather exceptional in the French academic community of his day, was linked to his political interests. In fact, a little-known aspect of Febvre's life is his admiration for one of the fathers of international anarchism and one of Reclus's influences, namely, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-65). In the early years of the 20th century, the young Febvre was a socialist militant, very interested in the movement of revolutionary syndicalism in a 1909 paper for the Revue de Synthese (Febvre, 1909a) he analyzed the supposed Proudhonian origins of revolutionary syndicalism, arguing that the movement, which was developing around structures called Bourses du Travail and strongly influenced by anarchism, owed more to the material conditions of class struggle and to the spirit of proletarian autonomy than to the readings of Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, or James Guillaume: revolutionary syndicalist workers were "disciples of Proudhon, but also of their life and times" (Febvre, 1962, page 779).
In his paper Febvre demonstrated his profound knowledge of the founding fathers of the anarchist movement and their works, including Guillaume (1845-1917). Guillaume was one of the founders of the Federation jurassietme (1871-82), the first anarchist organization in history. It was the Federation that organized the 1872 Saint-Imier Congress, where the anarchists split off from the Marxists, founding the 'Antiauthoritarian International', whose history can be read in Guillaume's memoirs (1905-10). According to contemporary historians like Marc Vuilleumier (2012), Guillaume's role in this organization was even more important than Bakunin's. Febvre, in his 1909 paper, joined a debate that directly involved Guillaume, who in those years was living in Paris and supported the movement of revolutionary syndicalism in collaboration with Pierre Monatte (1881-1960).
In Febvre's paper we find a profound knowledge of the anarchist literature of the final decades of the 19th century. For example, he quotes a list of pamphlets published by Jean Grave (1858-1932) and pleads for a systematic study of them (Febvre, 2009, page 935). Grave, a typographer, was one of the most authoritative French anarchists of his day, in constant touch with Reclus and Kropotkin, and editor of the journal Le Revolte (which later became La Revolte and, after 1895, Les Temps Nouveaux). The fact that a brilliant intellectual like Febvre had such a deep knowledge of these publications, which circulated only in militant and proletarian circles, made me suspect that he had some sympathy for the anarchist movement, at least for a while. Several of Febvre's writings indeed confirm this.
First, one can point to the corpus of papers he wrote between 1907 and 1909 in the socialist journal Le Socialiste comtois and which are the subject of dissertations by Jose Antonio Ereno Altuna (1994) in Spain and Joseph Pinard (2011) in France. Febvre participated in the socialist section of Besanqon, Proudhon's place of birth, where the memory of Proudhon and the geographical proximity of the Jura, the cradle of the organized anarchist movement, influenced debates in this pluralist and heterogeneous socialist group (Ereno Altuna, 1994, page 83). The two mottos of the Federation du Doubs were "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and "Land to the peasants, machines to the workers" (Ereno Altuna, 1994, page 84). According to Ereno Altuna, such slogans were still influenced by the anarcho-communist program of the Federation jurassienne, which insisted on the same points in its propaganda, including anticlericalism and free thinking. The Doubs federation, in fact, was part of the 'extreme left' wing of the French Socialist Party (1994, page 124).
Febvre was part of a discourse that focused on rural workers, as opposed to the majority of orthodox Marxists, who placed the industrial proletariat front and center. In a paper on the agrarian question, the future founder of the Annales borrowed terminology and concepts from the anarchist literature, such as direct action, internationalism, and free federation.
"We call it land to peasants not for property, but for collectivity. We call it universal expropriation of rural capitalists, from Brie or Beauce, from Lombardy or Parma, from Pomerania or Ireland. We call it the exploitation of freed lands, for the benefit of all, by free federations of associated peasants. We call it, and will continue to call it, the suppression of landlordism and salaried work" (Febvre, 1908, page 1).
This source is very important, I would argue, because Febvre speaks here not as a historian, intellectual, or academic, but as a militant of a peripheral group, writing short and very aggressive propagandist papers thus, these papers help us to better understand his thinking on political topics, which is less evident in his academic publications. This does not mean that a militant is less interesting than a 'great intellectual', but it is illuminating to compare such papers with the established image of Febvre as an esteemed and powerful academic, who keeps away from 'subversive' topics (Braudel, 1957).
Ereno Altuna stresses Febvre's link with the figure of Proudhon, "the son of the Petit Battant cooper, who fascinated him by his plebeian, egalitarian and proletarian spirit, by his anarchism and his intransigent concern with never sacrificing Man to the State" (Ereno Altuna, 1994, page 130). Febvre also quoted Proudhon in his dissertation on the FrancheComte region, defining him as "the great Proudhon, whose ideas are experiencing nowadays a resurrection that is both curious and well deserved" (1912, page 257). This period of Febvre's experience might be summed up by the title of one of his last articles for Le Socialiste comtois: "Vive la vie, a bas Tautorite" ("Hurrah for life, down with authority") (Febvre, 1909b).
This chapter of Febvre's biography was neglected for a long time, and only in recent years have a number of his contributions on political and social topics been dusted off and published, for example, Febvre's (2012) "Quatre legons sur le syndicalisme franqais" ("Four lessons on French syndicalism"), and his essay on the melting pot (Crouzet and Febvre, 2012).
The "Quatre lecons", written between 1919 and 1920, stressed the originality of French syndicalism, which, according to Febvre, was characterized by its libertarianism, due in part to Proudhon's legacy. As Jean Lecuir sees it, he remained "faithful to the political convictions of his youth and his roots in Franche-Comte, by quoting Kropotkin, Proudhon and Jaures" (Lecuir, 2012, page 6).
In one of the four lessons, Febvre insists on the factual continuity between the First International and revolutionary syndicalism. "Flow did the concept of revolutionary syndicalism take shape, from one experience to the next, laboriously rediscovering one by one the essential ideas of the [First] International?", asks Febvre, basing his view on recollections by Braupacher, Guillaume, and Kropotkin. He goes on to state:
"In 186-, as in 1904, the realities of workers' lives, the necessities of workers' [collective] action generated the same ideas, as the workers of 1904 could have realized by reading the history of the International that James Guillaume now offered them, between 1905 and 1910. But it is from these necessities and these realities that workers' consciousness drew, both times, ideas that are those of the Jurassians of 186-. To claim that Yvetot, Griffuelhes, Pouget, even Monatte were taught by Bakunin or James Guillaume is the height of absurdity. They rediscovered their ideas in him, that's all" (Lecuir, 2012, page 11).
Here the distinction between Febvre's and Guillaume's thinking is that the latter claimed there was a direct connection between the Antiauthoritarian International and revolutionary syndicalism, whereas the former argued there had been a simultaneous adoption of the same ideas. But they agreed on the coincidence of ideas between the two movements.
In another manuscript note, Febvre clearly expressed his sympathy for libertarian syndicalism as an alternative to Marxism and reformist socialism.
"Syndicalism is based on living organisms. It is inspired by the old anarchist spirit of autonomy, decentralization, federative freedom. Whereas the socialist movement, on the contrary, by its very essence is statist, rule-based, the enemy of freedom on principle, full of the Marxist and collectivist spirit. Moreover, syndicalism exercises a strong attraction on the socialist movement. But a distinction persists [mainly because the leaders are recruited from different social groups]. The leaders and theorists of syndicalism are workers: Jouhaux, Merrheim, Pouget, Griffuelhes, Yvetot. The socialist leaders and theorists are bourgeois and intellectuals: Jaures, Sembat, Renaudel, Guesde, Longuet, Cachin" (Lecuir, 2012, page 12).
It is significant that Febvre relies on a classic anarchist idea, namely, the proletarian origins of anarchist and syndicalist militants, who rejected the creation of a new bourgeois class of politicians and bureaucrats, and called for the interaction of intellectual and manual work their essentially proletarian class composition was confirmed by important publications such as the biographical dictionaries of French and Italian anarchists (Antonioli et al, 2003-2004 Maitron, 1964). His sympathy for the genuine proletarian nature of revolutionary syndicalism and anarchosyndicalism, as also stressed by Bertrand Russell (1918), clearly recalls Febvre's admiration for that 'son of the people', Proudhon.
As late as 1937 Febvre had to justify his interest in Proudhon after the attacks leveled at him for his critique of a collective work published by French Marxists, Karl Marx et la pensee moderne (Febvre, 1937). The fact that he defended himself saying he "was not a Proudhonist" (Febvre, 2009, page 941) demonstrates that Marxists had accused him of being an anarchist. In his paper Febvre once more expressed his admiration for Proudhon, who was "born and educated, as he declared, in the working class" (page 942), and defended him from the attacks of a certain Armand Cuvillier, who Febvre invited to demonstrate more "historic serenity" (page 943). Febvre's arguments were academic, namely that professional historians should not use history to attack political adversaries, but his sympathy for Proudhon was once more clear.
Reclus argued against teaching national histories, explaining his idea of the universal melting pot, which he considered a part of his strategy for changing society. Febvre advocated the same idea of the melting pot in a work from his final years, written in 1951 with Francois Crouzet but published only in 2012, Nous sommes des sang-meles ("We are all half-bloods") I imagine the fate of this publication is due to its annoying focus on the melting pot as against French Republican ethics and the discourse of national identity, which still raises many problems in French debates on racism, postcolonialism, and colonial memory (Bancel, 2011).
Febvre's inscription at the head of this book is "Our first name: Frenchman our surname: Man" (Crouzet and Febvre, 2012, page 18). The work, ideally addressed to a French child starting his or her schooling, vehemently denies the idea of 'purity'. While Reclus is not explicitly quoted, the idea of the mixed nature of the French people was a rare one among French authors and is more characteristic of the studies of anarchist geographers. As Febvre states, addressing his imaginary young student:
"Now recapitulate the great events of your story, the history of France. You shall see that not one of them . could have occurred without having been, from the outside, prepared, at times provoked, in any case oriented and facilitated by the joint effort of other countries, peoples, and nations" (page 21).
Crossbreeding and cross-fertilization
In France research on the mutual influence of history and geography has been growing in recent years. Marie-Vic Ozouf-Marignier and Nicolas Verdier have tried to deal systematically with different kinds of collaboration between the two disciplines: "Historical Geography, Geohistory, Geographical History: there are several versions of the joining of the two disciplines and the two notions associated with them" (2013, no page number). Accordingly, some French geographers have called for their discipline to be labeled 'Geohistory', which is more often used by historians post-Braudel (Grataloup, 1996 2007). The same debate was recently revived in the anglophone world by what Robert Mayhew calls an intense 'border traffic' (Mayhew, 2012) between the fields of historical geography and intellectual history by this he means the flourishing of works that straddle these disciplines, in the broader context of the relationships between geography and other social sciences (Powell, 2014).
Such interdisciplinary cross-pollination is an old story, considering that the most famous French historian of the 19th century, Jules Michelet, was also traditionally considered the first French geographer, because he stressed the strong geographical basis of his concept of France (Corcelle, 1899). The most famous work in national geography, the Tableau de la Geographie de la France by Vidal de la Blache (1903), was inspired by Michelet's (1861) Tableau de la France and explicitly dedicated to the historian. Moreover, Reclus's training in history owed much to Michelet: the two men were friends and correspondents in the early 1860s, sharing not only scientific methods, but also their common political opposition to the Second Empire. Eventually family issues led to the end of their friendship, following the marriage of Alfred Dumesnil, the widower of Michelet's daughter, to Louise Reclus, Reclus's sister and the tutor of Dumesnil's daughters. Nevertheless, they continued to read and quote each other (Ferretti, 2011a, pages 35-38).
In the 20th century, disciplines such as geography, history, and the modern field of sociology inspired by Emile Durkheim (which shared some of the same publishers, for example, Henri Berr's Revue de Synthese and the Armand Colin publishing house) began to compete for academic posts and started to diverge over the question of their respective limits and disciplinary borders. Nevertheless, history and human geography, the latter represented by the School of Vidal de la Blache, shared many objectives and methods, as well as common institutional features such as the agregation (the French national diploma in preparation for secondary school teaching) in history and geography. According to Ozouf-Marignier, "the estrangement of the two disciplines is hard to explain. More than there having been any real disputes, it seems to have been based on a misunderstanding" (1992, page 102).
Nevertheless, several authors stress that during this time, history maintained a "continuous dialogue with geography" (Muller, 2003, page 248) the extensive literature on these topics generally recognizes the profound debt the Annales School owed to geography, as well as the geographical inspiration of the most famous works of Bloch, Braudel, and Febvre. Publications like Febvre and Bloch's correspondence, edited by Bertrand Muller (Bloch and Febvre, 1994), show the networks of personal contacts that linked the Annales d'histoire economique et sociale with the Annales de Geographie, particularly through Bloch and Febvre's friendship with geographers like Albert Demangeon and Jules Sion.
Demangeon was undoubtedly the official representative of geographical science in the Annales group (Clout, 2003a Wolff, 2005). While research on Reclus's influence on the Annales is just starting and will come into its own only when Braudel and Febvre's archives are opened to researchers, I would argue that some elements of Reclus's legacy can be inferred from the relationship between Febvre and Demangeon, which was close, considering that Febvre's career started partly thanks to Demangeon's suggestion to Henri Berr to accept him as a collaborator on the Revue de synthese (2) Demangeon had some direct contact with Reclus (3) (which was rare in the Vidal School), and his son-in-law Aime Perpillou edited, with Paul Reclus, a revised edition of L'Homme et la Terre in 1931 (Reclus, 1931).
Demangeon and Febvre wrote a book that remains a curious, little-studied work, Le Rhin, a monograph on the Rhine fluvial region the historical part was Febvre's work while Demangeon took care of the geographical portion. Until now, commentators have generally regarded these two parts as separate, and indeed Febvre's chapters were reprinted independently (Febvre, 1997). Peter Schottler (1997) has already argued that this work 'demystified' the nationalist myths about the Rhine boundary by considering the common cultural features of the people living on both sides of the river, which was an original approach in comparison with the historical and geographical representations of Alsace-Lorraine at that time, which were inspired by French nationalism (Heffeman, 2001). From this I infer that the concept is surely indebted to Reclus's understanding of the river basin as a means of unifying peoples rather than as a frontier (Reclus, 1869).
It is worth comparing the only part of Demangeon and Febvre's work that they wrote together, the Introduction, with some of Reclus's own statements on the Rhine basin. In 1934 Demangeon and Febvre wrote:
"The geographer observes, and for him the notion stands out, clear and strong, of all that the great Rhine way creates in terms of solidarity and union between countries, between men as well . the value of its territory as an area of contact and civilization" (page vii).
"Despite the jumbled lines of political borders, each of its regions, Baden, Hesse, the valleys of the Nahe, Lahn, Moselle, Sieg, and Ruhr, would deserve to be studied separately, if the Rhine, flowing south to north, had not given this group of lands a special character in Germany and Europe" (pages 545-546).
At that time, of course, both shores of the Rhine, as well as the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, were under German sovereignty.
Even if the papers Febvre wrote as a militant were not his most famous, one of the major works he wrote as a historian of mentality, Le probleme de I'incroyance an XVIe siecle: la religion de Rabelais ("The problem of unbelief in the 16th century: the religion of Rabelais") revealed his cultural background as a socialist and a free thinker. In this context Latour's concept of 'cultural influence', which I mentioned in the introduction, comes to mind. Franpois Rabelais (1483-1553), the irreverent and antiauthoritarian writer who dreamt up the Abbey of Thelema, whose rule was "do what you want", was quoted by Kropotkin as a forerunner of anarchism, arguing that his ideas "could not be developed, owing to the rigorous censorship of the Roman Catholic Church" (Kropotkin, 1910, no page number). Reclus proposed the same interpretation, arguing that Rabelais was "compelled to hide the substance of his thinking so as not to be persecuted as a heretic" (1877, page 532). The persistence of Rabelais's story in the socialist and anarchist milieus of that time is demonstrated by the correspondence of Reclus's brother-in-law Dumesnil, describing the free commune established by Reclus and his friends in Vascoeuil: "Our daily life is organized as if we were in the Abbey of Thelema." (4)
In his essay Febvre criticized authors (not Reclus and Kropotkin, however) who anachronistically called Rabelais 'an atheist', a concept which did not exist at that time. Nevertheless, Febvre presented Rabelais as a heterodox and a 'free thinker'. It is clear that Febvre was responding to the leftist and libertarian intellectual environment, as demonstrated by his comparison of different definitions of a 'heretic' between the 16th and 20th centuries: "In 1936, a petit bourgeois would call him 'a communist, a dangerous man', exactly as in 1900 he said 'an anarchist'" (Febvre, 1947, page 150).
I quote the most famous exponent of this school and Febvre's disciple, Braudel, observing that, in Reclus's works, the Mediterranean metaphor was similarly used to define river and sea basins as historical ways of communication and exchange this notion of the 'Mediterranean' as a geographical and historical quality that was applicable to different seas and hydrographical basins was seen by scholars as anticipating some features of the idea of geohistory, first advanced by Braudel (1949). In an interview with Braudel, Yves Lacoste questioned him on the importance of Reclus's legacy. Braudel answered that he had not read Reclus at the time he wrote La Mediterranee, but avoided some similarities with its concepts (Lacoste, 1990).
Geographers like Florence Deprest have put forward the hypothesis that Reclus's influence stretches to the last of the great Annalisles, though indirectly, through Febvre, as well as through French exponents of Geographie humaine, by whom Braudel was strongly influenced, such as Demangeon and Sion, who were part of a generation which had direct knowledge of Reclus's works. The 'Geographical invention of the Mediterranean Sea', according to Deprest, was a gradual enterprise that began to take shape in the early Universal Geographies of Malte-Brun and Reclus, and was continued between 1927 and 1948 by the Geographie universelle of Gallois, Demangeon, and the other disciples of Vidal de la Blache (Clout, 2003b).
"In certain phases of history, the Mediterranean Sea played a key role. Reclus thus states that a place can be an actor in history. It was thought that the Mediterranean, a 'historical character,' was an essentially Braudelian idea. And indeed it has a scientific precedent. One can assume that Reclus's idea came down to Braudel thanks to its having inspired other authors he refers to" (Deprest, 2002, page 88).
Conclusion: geography, geohistory, and anarchism
According to the editors of Antipode's 2012 special issue dealing with anarchism, anarchist ideas deserve full consideration for the building of a social and plural geography, producing nondogmatic knowledge engaged with social struggles (Springer et al, 2012). As my analysis of his work has shown Febvre had similar aims for his own discipline, history, at least in his youth.
One of the links between Reclus, Febvre, and present anarchism is undoubtedly a shared interest in universal history. According to Springer, "while the universalism of his thought has become unfashionable as a result of poststructuralism's influence on the academy, one cannot ignore the profound influence that [Reclus's] social and ecological ethics have played in the development of radical thought, which stretches far beyond what many would consider 'anarchism'" (2013, pages 49-50).
Mutual aid, a central point for Reclus and Kropotkin which strongly interested Febvre, is now stressed as a factor in 'informal economies' by economic geographers like Richard White (2009), who argues that it could serve as an example for the generalization of nonmoney economies. Scholarly interest in the daily life of the popular classes was largely inspired by the work of the Annales historians who argued, drawing on geographical tradition, that history was not only that of kings, palaces, and battles.
Other works (Friedman, 1996) analyzed the debt the other founder of the Annales School, Bloch, owed to geography. Murdered by the Nazis in 1944 for his involvement in partisan resistance, Bloch was very influential in antifascist and leftist French circles.
While this paper demonstrates that Febvre's interest both in anarchism and in Reclus's geography was important in shaping his scholarly and political ideas, research on these topics, particularly the influence of the 'anarchist geographers' on the Annales's school of history, is in its infancy.
In fact, in the absence of more explicit references and quotations, only sources like correspondence, working notes, and personal libraries can shed new light on what Muller calls the "antechamber of knowledge" (Bloch and Febvre, 1994, page vi), in other words, la fabrique du savoir, the knowledge mill. These sources will allow us to retrace the intellectual influence of authors who worked at a time when bibliometrics and systematic quotation were unheard of, which meant that some of their references were not explicitly quoted.
For that reason, I think it is important to consider the idea of an archeology of knowledge in Foucault's sense of the term that is, tracking the circulation of concepts and ideas beyond the limits of disciplines, tendencies, or national schools. As Foucault wrote, "the margins of a book are never clear-cut: beyond the title, the first lines, and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous form, it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network" (1969, page 34).
What is certain, then, is that among Febvre's 'intellectual references' (Candar and Pluet-Despatin, 1997) one can find--alongside Proudhon rather than being in any sense secondary--two anarchist geographers, Kropotkin and Reclus.
Department of Geography and Environment, University of Geneva, 40 Bd. Pont d'Arve, CH-1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland e-mail: [email protected]
Received 28 February 2014 in revised form 28 September 2014
Acknowledgements. This research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation as part of the project Ecrire le monde autrementlWriting the World Differently (FNS div. 1, 2012-15).
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(1) See the conference's site : http://www.lboro.ac.Uk/departments/phir/research/seminars/asn-3.0/
(2) Paris, Bibliotheque Mazarine, Fonds Perpillou-Demangeon, Henri Berr to Albert Demangeon, 10 August 1905.
(3) Paris, Bibliotheque Mazarine, Fonds Perpillou-Demangeon, Henri Berr to Albert Demangeon, 10 August 1905 Elisee Reclus's calling card with handwritten greetings to A Demangeon, Brussels, 1905.
(4) Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris, Manuscript 1597, f 272, A Dumesnil to E Noel, 6 September 1866.