The Earth and its Inhabitants: the Anarchist Geographies of Elisée Reclus

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM (MDT)
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Richard White, Simon Springer
Chairs: Simon Springer


This Panel session is focused on the French anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus (1830-1905), with Professor Emeritus John P. Clark (La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology) opening the session by presenting this paper:

"Elisée Reclus and the Discovery of the Earth"

French social geographer Elisée Reclus explored the ontological, epistemological, historical, political, moral and phenomenological dimensions of the process of discovery of the Earth. He was the first to recount in minute detail, through his 16,000-page Nouvelle Géographie Universelle and his 3500-page L’Homme et la Terre, the geohistorical narrative (or anarchic counter-narrative) of humanity-in-nature. Through this project, he became the unfounding founder of anarchist geography, showing that geography can be written from either an archic or an anarchic perspective: on behalf the system of domination, or on behalf of the liberation of humanity and the Earth. Reclusian anarchist geography is a discourse of unity-in-plurality, in which not only the human community and person, but also geographical phenomena are seen as expressions of universal particularity and universal singularity. As Reclus begins his Histoire d’un Ruisseau, the history of even the smallest stream “is the history of infinity.” We conclude with reflections on New Orleans from the Reclusian standpoint of anarchist geography, 164 years after Reclus’ arrival here. This approach reveals New Orleans to be an "apocalyptic city," in both the popular and the creative, utopian senses of this term, an "edge city," positioned at the geographical, cultural, political, and economic margins, poised on the brink of the abyss, an "interstitial city," replete with fecund, generative gaps between “that which stands,” and an "antistitial city," always threatening, with the aid of both nature and culture, to subvert “that which stands.”


The session will continue with responses being given by a distinguished panel of radical and critical geographers, including Clark Akatiff, Ken Matthewson, Sutapa Chattopadhyay, Federico Ferretti, Farhang Rouhani and Joshua Mullenite. An open discussion on the enduring importance and ongoing relevance of Elisée Reclus will conclude the session.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist John Clark Loyola University New Olreans 20
Panelist Clark Akatiff 15
Panelist Kent Mathewson Louisiana State University 15
Panelist Sutapa Chattopadhyay UNU-Merit & Maastricht University 10
Panelist Farhang Rouhani University of Mary Washington 10
Panelist Federico Ferretti 10
Panelist Joshua Mullenite Wagner College 10

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