Connecting political ecology and french geography: on tropicality and radical thought uri icon


  • With regards to the development of a broadly understood political ecology, francophone and anglo-american intellectual traditions have had uneven, asymmetrical and under-documented influences. Exploring these influences, this chapter challenges the temptation of reducing french political ecology to a mere intellectual script for France’s green movement, unconnected to Francophone academia. With a specific focus on french geography, it is fair to say that it did not provide a disciplinary anchorage similar to its anglo-american counterparts. In stark contrast with the influential works of anthropologists Meillassoux and Terray, french geographers have indeed progressively lost traction outside of the Francophone world, leading in the late 70s to divergence and ignorance between the anglo-american radical geography and french marxisms. But geography departments have also harboured important scholarly contributions and debates that can be found for example in the works of Pierre Gourou. The founding father of french tropical geography, he had an important and diverse intellectual legacy, ranging from the development-oriented terroir school to more critical tiers-mondistes scholars. Paralleling the more radical stance of René Dumont – both an agronomist and a pioneering green politician – the heritage of Gourou’s thought is somewhat paradoxical, in that it for long valued the virtues of fieldwork-driven perspectives – and yet downplayed political analysis. This is not so true since the 2000s, as recent works are illustrative of increasing connections, commonalities and possible synergies between french and anglo-american political ecologies

publication date

  • 2015