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(en) Announcement of a Conference on the Legacy of Elisée Reclus

Date Wed, 29 Mar 2006 09:40:27 +0200


HUMANITY AND THE EARTH/L’HOMME ET LA TERRE: THE LEGACY OF ELISEE RECLUS
October 27-29, 2006 Loyola University New Orleans, LA USA
Last year marked the 175th anniversary of the birth of Elisée Reclus and
the 100th anniversary of his death. A conference in New Orleans scheduled
on the occasion of this double anniversary was postponed because of the
destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, but it has been rescheduled for
this Fall. At that time we will gather to discuss the life and work of Reclus
and to investigate the ways in which his legacy is relevant to our world today.
Reclus is considered by many to be the greatest geographer of his age
and is generally recognized as a pioneering figure in the development of
social geography. His eighteen-thousand page Nouvelle Géographie
Universelle was a monumental intellectual achievement which, as
geographer Gary Dunbar observes, “for a generation was to serve as the
ultimate geographical authority” and constituted “probably the greatest
individual writing feat in the history of geography.” His work
culminated in the thirty-five-hundred-page L’Homme et la Terre, a grand
synthesis of his ideas concerning geography, history, philosophy,
politics, sociology, religion, anthropology, and many other fields.

Reclus, perhaps more than any other 19th century social thinker,
contributed to the development of a comprehensive ecological world view.
His focus on our place in nature is expressed in the opening words of
L’Homme et la Terre: “Humanity is Nature becoming self-conscious.”
Reclus can be seen as a founder of both social ecology and political
ecology, inasmuch as he carefully traced the interconnections between
the social, the political and the ecological, and he saw the solution to
ecological problems as necessitating a wide-ranging, and indeed
revolutionary political and economic transformation of society.

In addition, Reclus was a major social philosopher and one of the
foremost theorists of anarchism. His analysis of the state, capitalism,
technology, racism, patriarchy, authoritarian culture and the domination
of nature constitutes perhaps the most far-ranging critique of
domination in the history of anarchist thought. He was also an important
figure in the development of urbanism, was one of the most original
theorists of libertarian education, and made important contributions to
ethical vegetarianism and the consideration of our treatment of other
species.

Finally, Reclus lived an extraordinary life as a scientist, scholar,
revolutionary and human being. He saw all his diverse activities as
integral expressions of his commitment to the struggle for human freedom
and of his concern for the good of humanity and other living
beings. Biographers have described his life as an inspiring example of
compassion, solidarity, egalitarianism, dedication, humility,
intellectual curiosity, joy in living, and a deep love of humanity and
nature.

Conference presentations, which should be in English, may address any
area of the legacy of Reclus, the person, the revolutionary, the
geographer, and the social and ecological philosopher. Requests for
further information and proposals for presentations (which are due by
May 31), should be sent, preferably by email, to:



John P. Clark

Department of Humanities

City College

Box 79

Loyola University

New Orleans, LA 70118

clark@loyno.edu <mailto:clark@loyno.edu>

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Ronald Creagh
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