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Professorial patronage and the formation of French geographical knowledge. A bio-bibliographical exploration of one hundred non-metropolitan regional monographs, 1893-1969

Le patronage des professeurs et la formation du savoir géographique français. Une exploration bio-bibliographique d’une centaine de monographies régionales hors-métropole, de 1893 à 1969
Hugh Clout


La géographie universitaire française pendant la majeure partie du 20ème siècle est particulièrement connue pour ses monographies régionales, rédigées sous la forme de thèses de doctorat. Les géographes étrangers pensent d’abord et avant tout à ces monographies couvrant les régions françaises, bien qu’une grande partie de ce travail doctoral aborde les régions non métropolitaines. C’est sous l’angle du parrainage professoral que cet article se concentre sur la production et la réception de cent thèses achevées entre 1893 et 1969. Dubois et Vidal de La Blache ont soutenu la première cohorte, suivis d’une génération d’entre-deux-guerres de professeurs de la Sorbonne et dans une moindre mesure de provinciaux. Après 1945, la production de thèses doctorales a énormément augmenté avec comme parrains des professeurs parisiens auxquels se sont ajoutés leurs homologues en province, particulièrement à Bordeaux. Seuls trois candidats sur les cent traités dans cet article sont des femmes. La promotion universitaire de la plupart des géographes qui n’avaient pas exercé hors de France avait pour conséquence une affectation universitaire en France, bien qu’un grand nombre d’entre eux ait gardé un fort attachement à la région dans laquelle ils avaient fait un travail de terrain.

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Introduction: Examining France and the World

  • 1 It should be noted that Swedish geographers also wrote regional (or local) monographs as part of do (...)
  • 2 Even now, it is unusual for doctoral theses by British geographers to be published in monograph for (...)
  • 3 My choice of Les paysans de la Normandie orientale (1909) by Jules Sion was instrumental in shaping (...)

1During the major part of the 20th century, French academic geography enjoyed international renown on the basis of Vidal de la Blache’s Tableau de la Géographie de la France, of the information made accessible on the pages of the Annales de Géographie and the Géographie Universelle, and of the quality of scholarship contained in regional monographs written as theses for the award of the doctorat d’Etat (state doctorate)(Harrison-Church, 1951; Freeman, 1967, 44-71; Darby, 1983, 19). In the United Kingdom, few geographical doctorates (PhD) were awarded until the 1960s, with the Master of Arts (MA) degree being considered sufficient qualification for a university lecturer or even a professor. Likewise, few geographers obtained a higher doctorate (DLitt, or DSc) by submitting a corpus work for formal examination (Clout, 2003, 250).1 Against this background, which differed greatly from the qualifications required of a university teacher in France, British academic geographers were extremely impressed by the monographs written by their French counterparts (Dickinson, 1969, 214-221; Darby, 2002, 90-145).2 These volumes were widely perceived as scholarly successes, even as models in the art of regional study (Meynier, 1969, p. 97). Indeed, until the 1960s detailed scrutiny of a French regional monograph formed an integral part of the programme of study for geography undergraduates in most British universities. In practice, this meant examining a volume written about a region of France and fitted neatly into detailed classes about the regions of Western Europe.3 Such an approach, of course, considered only part of the picture and largely ignored monographs written about other parts of the world.

  • 4 Prior to 1959, a minor or secondary thesis was also required, but these minor works are excluded fr (...)

2The present article adopts a biobibliographical approach in the spirit of that proposed in 1977 by Philippe Pinchemel, then chairman of the Commission for the History of Geographical Thought of the International Geographical Union (Pinchemel, 1977). It seeks to complement the author’s earlier exploration of the first one hundred geographical monographs written as major theses (thèses principales), which examined regions within France, by scrutinizing the production and reception of a further one hundred monographs relating to regions beyond metropolitan France (Clout, 2009).4 This second array of work, published between the early 1890s and the late 1960s, extends from the peak of colonialism to the immediate post-colonial era (Pourtier, 2010). Its time span pre-dates major conceptual innovations in French geography, which became particularly apparent from the 1970s onwards, and concludes before the structural changes in French higher education that would lead to the abolition of the doctorat d’Etat in 1984 (Claval, 1998, p. 327; Bourgeat, 2007; Orain, 2009).

3A number of fundamental questions may be posed at this point. Who were the hundred scholars who wrote about territories beyond metropolitan France? Which regions did they examine? Under whose guidance – or academic patronage – did they undertake their work? How did the chronology of doctoral submission evolve across this span of time? And how did the award of the doctorat d’Etat affect subsequent careers?

  • 5 Bourgeat argued that not all time-consuming doctoral theses were barriers to scholarly innovation a (...)
  • 6 To save space, only those comptes rendus that are quoted or otherwise used in this paper are listed (...)
  • 7 Official reports (rapports de soutenance de thèse) represent a further element in the scholarly dis (...)

4Three bodies of evidence have been scrutinized in the quest to elucidate these issues. Pride of place is given to the monographs themelves, totalling 53,000 pages, with attention being given not only to their content but also to dedications and acknowledgements for scholarly assistance. Details of each of these works are listed in the Appendix, which adds further information to two published inventories (Briend & Joseph, 1997; Robic, 2006, 185-201). Then use has been made of the comptes rendus, summaries and accounts that professorial patrons and others published in the Annales de Géographie and other academic journals to present doctoral work to a wider scholarly audience within and beyond France. Typical comptes rendus covered two or three printed pages, but appraisals running to six or even eight pages were not unknown. Comptes rendus have been analysed in great detail by Serge Bourgeat who examined the scholarly reception of French doctoral studies in human geography - covering metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions - that were completed between 1960 and 1984 (Bourgeat 2007, 2010).5 For the period under discussion at least, bland summaries or expressions of praise were common, whilst critical reviews were relatively rare; hence, attention will be devoted to the latter rather than the former in this article.6 Further information has been obtained from published obituaries, memorial essays and other discussions of the lives and works of the hundred scholars and the professors who afforded them varying degrees of academic support.7

  • 8 All the patrons considered here were men.
  • 9 Responses to the social revolution in French universities following the events of 1968 led to many (...)

5Central to the whole exercise is the notion of patronage, namely the relationship between the candidate undertaking doctoral research and the university professor accepting the proposed topic, offering guidance, and steering the thesis toward a panel (jury) of professors for formal examination (Bourgeat, 2007, pp. 70-76). In receipt for support, no matter how tenuous, the professor would expect to receive intellectual allegiance from the researcher whose success would, in due course, reflect back on him and reinforce his intellectual recognition (Bourdieu, 1988, p. 94).8 During the period under discussion, the relationship was typically much looser than that between doctoral student and supervisor (directeur de thèse) in our own time. The fact that the hundred scholars under discussion were undertaking research beyond metropolitan France lessened the chance of receiving personal contact and guidance in the field. Nonetheless, some professors made a point of visiting disciples in their study regions, but this was more of an exception than the rule. Such features of patronage and allegiance differed in degree from interpersonal relationships in the laboratory, famously examined by Bruno Latour, which gave rise to ‘actor-network theory’, or as he sometimes stated ‘actor-network practice’ (Latour & Woolgar, 1986). Nonetheless, the power of the patron in supporting and promoting not only individual scholars but also clusters of disciples must not be under-estimated. In addition to a well argued thesis and a successful doctoral defence, an enthusiastic compte rendu by one’s patron could help launch a professorial career in higher education. On the contrary, the absence of a compte rendu in a scholarly journal carried connotations of faint praise if not disapproval of some aspect of the work. In the period under study, acquisition of a state doctorate was a necessary but not sufficient qualification to obtain a chair in the state-run university system of France (Clark, 1973, p. 24).9

  • 10 This title has been considered among regional monographs dealing with parts of France (Clout, 2009)

6During the greater part of the 19th century, academic geography had existed as a sub-discipline of history in the French university system (Berdoulay, 1981, p. 35). Vidal de la Blache and other pioneers of geography attended lecture courses in history, which often embraced some brief discussion of territorial divisions in the past, of ancient history, the history of discovery, and historical cartography. Within this framework, Auguste Himly, long-serving professor of geography at the Sorbonne, afforded patronage to doctoral disciples who were required to write their major thesis in French and their minor work in Latin (Berdoulay 1977). The language requirement was abandoned in 1903 but a secondary thesis continued to be required until 1959 (Marconis, 200, p. 36). The early monographs were normally based on a meticulous scrutiny of published sources, sometimes but certainly not always complemented by cursory investigations in the field. Vidal’s major thesis on Hérode Atticus (1872) in ancient history was very much in this mould, as were the historical monographs by men such as Emile-Félix Berlioux, Henri Cons, Henri Lorin, Marcel Dubois and Lucien Gallois who would later occupy university chairs of geography. Their essentially literature-based works predated the hundred regional monographs under discussion which were normally derived from research findings gathered during periods in the field. This methodology reflected Vidal’s reformulation of geography as a distinctive ‘science’ that was no longer merely the subsidiary of history. It was based on a thorough knowledge of the physical environment as well as an understanding of the dynamics of human activity, and showing profound appreciation of the role of cartography in displaying spatial differentiation. However, the distinction between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ geography was nebulous to start with and some monographs completed in the 1890s were more concerned with history or the history of geography than with modern expressions of the discipline. Thus, the thesis by Pierre Camena d’Almeida, entitled Les Pyrénées, développement de la connaissance géographique de la chaîne (1893), was dedicated to Vidal but must have been written with the patronage of Himly.10

Phase I: Pre-war pioneers, 1893 – 1913

7Vidal is rightly credited with the renovation of scholarly geography in France through the influence he exerted on his students at the École Normale Supérieure in central Paris, the “great lay seminary”’ at the apex of the scholarly hierarchy, which trained the nation’s academic elite of future lycée (state high school) teachers and university lecturers (Bourdieu, 1988, p. xix). However, patronage of doctoral work was the sole privilege of university professors, hence Vidal could not perform that role until 1899 when he succeeded Himly in the leading chair of geography at the Sorbonne. Nonetheless, some early monographs were dedicated to him in a purely personal capacity. There was, however, another professor of geography in the University of Paris in the person of Marcel Dubois, who had been appointed as lecturer in colonial geography in 1885 and acquired professorial status in 1893, when a Chair was established at the request of the Under-Secretariat of State for the Colonies (Soubeyran, 1997, p. 137). Despite having co-founded the Annales de Géographie in 1891, the two men were very different in their conception of geography and in their politics. Editorial co-operation came to an end a couple of years later when Vidal brought in Lucien Gallois and geologist Emmanuel de Margerie, who were sympathetic to his innovative views. Nonetheless, it was Dubois, sometimes working alongside Himly, who served as patron to the initial cluster of geographers who defended their doctoral work in 1893.

  • 11 The doctoral thesis by André Siegfried (1875-1959) on La démocratie en Nouvelle-Zélande (1904) was (...)

8First came Armand Rainaud, whose study of exploration in the South Seas was entirely library-based, as was Henri Schirmer’s monograph on the Sahara that synthesized findings brought back by many desert explorers, however its author had once visited Algeria (Gallois, 1931, p. 678). Augustin Bernard’s monograph on New Caledonia was assembled from reports by governors of the island’s penal colony, missionaries and army officers (Perret, 1948, p. 159). Its author never set foot on the island and would devote his career to studying North Africa rather than the Pacific Ocean. Dubois patronised Paul Meuriot’s comparative analysis of the growth of major European cities, which was based on a statistical conception of geography developed by Emile Levasseur, his true mentor. Indeed, Meuriot had become a member of the Société de Statistique de Paris in 1896. His thesis received harsh comments from the Vidalian Gallois, who declared: “The author treats his subject as a statistician. Statistics have the great inconvenience of substituting numbers for the facts themselves, and hence mask their relationship with the land and strip them of their geographical character” (Gallois, 1898, p. 56). Since his minor thesis was not well regarded either, Meuriot remained a lycée teacher. Nonetheless, he was well regarded as a statistician, was a prolific author, and was elected president of the Société de Statistique de Paris in January 1919, but he died before the end of the year (Montigny, 1997, p. 46). It is likely that Dubois also supported Jules Machat who wrote about French Guinea. This author regretted that he was “not able to use the travel grant that the Union coloniale française generously made available” and admitted that the printed pages did “not represent … a geographical monograph on French Guinea, but rather prepare the way for more complete research for such a monograph” (Machat, 1905, p. 2-3). According to a much later critic, this “mediocre, purely descriptive [thesis] did not subscribe to the Vidalian approach, but rather to the geographical tradition of explorers” (Suret-Canale, 1994, p. 157). Once passed, it was quietly forgotten, as was Albert Métin’s encyclopaedic monograph on British Columbia, also prepared with support from Dubois. Nonetheless, its author taught at the Ecole Coloniale and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Paris, and developed a career in politics, rising to ministerial status before his death in 1918. Robert Perret received advice from Dubois as he prepared a monograph on Newfoundland. Its affluent author was able to devote himself to exploration, mountaineering and the activities of the Société de Géographie de Paris, without having to obtain paid employment (Despois, 1966, p. 303).11

9As their patron was marginalised by Vidal and his disciples, the protégés of Dubois found themselves on the losing side of an academic power struggle. Hence, with one exception, they did not influence the emerging discipline of geography either in France or beyond, and have become largely forgotten names in its history. Augustin Bernard was that exception, being appointed in 1894 to teach history at the nascent university in Algiers and then moving to its chair of geography (Larnaude, 1975, p. 108). In 1902 the governments of Algeria and Tunisia funded a lectureship at the Sorbonne on the geography and colonisation of French North Africa and appointed Bernard to fill it, enabling him to take long-term leave of absence from his post in Algiers. In her meticulous examination of archival materials recording the activity of French geographers in Algeria from 1880 to 1950, Florence Deprest has shown that a lectureship in Paris, close to the centre of political power and influence, as well as to a multiplicity of research materials, was far more convenient to Bernard than a professorship across the Mediterranean (Deprest, 2009, p. 137). As a library scholar rather than a fieldworker, he overcame the criticism that pupils of Dubois were weak on physical geography by bringing in members of the state geological survey as co-authors of various publications on Algeria and Morocco that were of direct use to the government in Paris. Nevertheless, Bernard was not a Vidalian and he continued to be viewed with suspicion by the master and his immediate disciples (Clout, 2003b, p. 138). However, his deep knowledge of North Africa was beyond question and as early as 1908 Vidal had selected him to write the volume on that part of the world in his projected Géographie Universelle.

  • 12 In 1907, De Martonne defended a second doctorate in science which examined the geomorphology of the (...)

10The second cluster of non-metropolitan monographs was the work of men who had been taught by Vidal at the ENS and then received his patronage after he moved to the Sorbonne (Clark, 1973, p. 67). Three Vidalian monographs on territories beyond metropolitan France were defended in 1902 alone. The first was by Emmanuel de Martonne, who wrote an holistic study of Wallachia, combining eight months of fieldwork spread “over several years” with a thorough analysis of literature in French, German and Romanian (De Martonne, 1902, p. vii).12 He became Vidal’s son-in-law and exercised a major role in the development of geography in France as director of the Institut de Géographie de Paris and founder of the Association de Géographes Français, and globally through his presidency of the International Geographical Union (Dresch, 1975; Hallair, 2007). The second was the work of Jean Brunhes who, after having contemplated a thesis on the climate of Spain, undertook a study of irrigation in Spain, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Considering both physical and human factors, and drawing on evidence gathered during a total of twelve months of fieldwork spread over eight years, this was a major piece of scholarship, however it was thematic and comparative, and did not conform to the Vidalian ideal of studying a single region holistically. Indeed, in 1898 Vidal had expressed concern that such a comparative work might not be acceptable to the authorities at the Sorbonne (Jean-Brunhes Delamarre, 1975, p. 56). Brunhes’s university career would develop in Switzerland and then at the Collège de France in Paris, but that most prestigious institution did not award degrees and hence Brunhes could not offer official patronage to doctoral candidates (Clout, 2006, p. 6). The third thesis was the work of Émile-Félix Gautier, who had studied under Vidal at the ENS but had failed the highly competitive agrégation examination in history and geography that enabled successful candidates to teach at a high level in state lycées and to lecture in universities (Bourdieu, 1988, p. 280). After a period of study in Germany, Gautier became an agrégé in German, and then entered the French colonial service (Zimmermann, 1942, p. 180). He was posted to Madagascar where he served as director of education and travelled widely on the island over five years, acquiring a good knowledge of Malagasy dialects. Largely on the basis of his explorations, he wrote a monograph on the physical geography of Madagascar that he presented for a state doctorate. With true political correctness, it was dedicated to General Joseph Galliéni, governor general of the island from 1896 to 1905, but was written with the academic patronage of Vidal. Its author’s personal observation on the island’s climate received particular praise, “given the manifest insufficiency of precise figures” (Schirmer, 1902, p. 461). Gautier’s subsequent career would take him to Algiers as a school teacher, lecturer and subsequently university professor, where he specialized on research in the Sahara, acquiring fluent Arabic (Bourdarie, 1937, p. 79; Larnaude, 1975, p. 109). His long experience of geographical work in Algeria and his identification with the interests of European settlers (which differentiated him from Bernard, much of whose work appeared as reports for the government) has recently come under detailed scrutiny (Deprest, 2009, p. 183-206; 2011).

11By contrast with these three men who influenced the development of academic geography through teaching, research, publications and administrative skills, a handful of other geographers completed doctoral work with Vidal’s support, but their work is not particularly familiar nowadays. After years of colonial service first in Madagascar and then at Ouagadougou, Lucien Marc acquired a state doctorate for a brief study of the Mossi region of French West Africa (De Margerie, 1916, p. 231). On the basis of this experience, he delivered lectures at the Sorbonne in 1912-13 that dealt with French methods of colonial organization and their application in French West Africa (Singaravélou, 2011). School teacher Désiré Pasquet produced a large study of population and poverty in London, which was dedicated to Vidal although it was examined four years after his retirement in 1909. It might be considered to be a work of economics or sociology, but Pasquet’s compilation of detailed distribution maps confirmed it to be a geographical study (Busson, 1928, p. 552). After a long career as a lycée teacher and lecturer in economic history at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, Pasquet had no impact on academic geography. Finally, Charles Monchicourt, a civil administrator in Tunisia since 1898, wrote a monograph on the Haut-Tell region, which was examined at the Sorbonne in 1913. It bore no dedication but must have received the patronage of Vidal, and possibly also of Gallois or De Martonne, since Bernard did not reach professorial status at the University of Paris until 1920 (Perret, 1948, p. 159).

12By the outbreak of World War I, over a dozen geographical monographs had been completed on regions beyond mainland France. All their authors were men in their thirties, with the exception of De Martonne, who was only 29 when he gained his doctorate, and Pasquet, who had reached 43 (Table I). The average monograph ran to 450 pages, but Marc’s thesis contained only 190 pages, whilst that by Brunhes reached 580 pages and Pasquet’s text was not far short of 800 pages. The authors included lycée teachers, university lecturers and men in civilian or military service in French territories abroad. Most had spent substantial time in the field, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, and especially so for those working in Africa. As géographes de cabinet, Rainaud, Schirmer and Bernard were the exceptions. A clear distinction is apparent between the disciples of Dubois, who largely faded from the domain of academic geography, and the leading pupils of Vidal who became important patrons to young geographers and made major contributions to shaping the discipline of geography between the wars.

Table 1. Average Characteristics of Monographs on Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Regions (in part after Clout, 2009, p. 17)


Non-Metropolitan monographs

Metropolitan monographs














Mean age at completion









Mean number

of pages



















Phase II: From one war to the next

13World War I claimed the life of one member of the first cohort of scholars, with Lucien Marc being killed on the battlefield in northern France in September 1914 (De Margerie, 1916, p. 231). Eight months later, Gaston Gravier was also killed in northern France, having spent five years researching the natural regions of Serbia for a projected doctorate whilst he taught French at the University of Belgrade (Demangeon, 1915, p. 454). No non-metropolitan monographs were completed for the duration of hostilities and work on several theses was interrupted. For example, Pierre Denis had spent 28 months in Argentina when war broke out in 1914, and had visited many parts of the country from his base at the University of Buenos Aires. Military service interrupted his academic work but “despite my strong wishes, it proved impossible to return into the field in 1919. I resigned myself to publish my observations, complementing them as best I could by bibliographic study” (Denis, 1920, p. 3). Unfortunately, little recent material had been sent to libraries in Paris and London, and his monograph on economic development in Argentina lacked up-to-date statistics. By contrast, Jacques Bourcart developed his military reconnaissance of Albania into a thesis that was submitted to the physical geographers in the Science Faculty of the Sorbonne, rather than to the Vidalians in the Arts Faculty (Guilcher, 1966, p. 304). Lycée teacher Jacques Ancel described how he had become interested in the forced relocation of Greeks from Asia Minor and eastern Thrace to Macedonia. “After two years in the trenches, and having received several wounds, the chance events of war took me to Macedonia as attaché to the surveying staff of the Armée française d’Orient [and subsequently as head of that section]. From January 1918, in order to prepare the bases for future peace, my functions allowed me to begin a political enquiry in the area, which should not, I felt, be of temporary use only. An unfortunate accident destroyed all the replies, which our collaborators had gathered from right up to the margins of Albania” (Ancel, 1930, p. 1). However, Ancel managed to secure funding from the Carnegie Foundation to investigate Greek resettlement, and defended his thesis at the Sorbonne in 1930 (Pechoux & Sivignon, 1996, p. 222). To Jules Sion, it read more like a work of current affairs than a doctoral thesis in geography; despite its merits in describing the recent transformation of Macedonia, its treatment of physical geography was considered both brief and flawed (Sion, 1932, p. 307).

14Following the retirement of Vidal in 1909, doctoral patronage at the Sorbonne was shared between De Martonne and Gallois, who were joined later by Demangeon (whose own monograph had been on Picardy) and Bernard (Marres, 1940, p. 280). Only five theses were delivered under the patronage of provincial professors (Sion at Montpellier, Blanchard at Grenoble, and Camena d’Almeida at Bordeaux) each of whom had been trained by Vidal at the ENS. A handful of very varied monographs was examined during the 1920s. In 1927, Arthur Geddes from Edinburgh (son of the influential polymath Patrick Geddes) presented a 236-page thesis to the University of Montpellier, based on three years spent in West Bengal (Wreford-Watson, 1968; Learmonth, 1978). It received the support of Sion, a friend of his father who had established his Collège des Écossais outside Montpellier. At this time, Sion was finalizing his volumes on Monsoon Asia for Vidal’s Géographie Universelle, although he never travelled east of the Mediterranean. Arthur Geddes spent the rest of his life as a university teacher in Edinburgh. Also in 1927, Maurice Legendre completed a monograph on the impoverished Jurdes region of western Spain, with the patronage of Camena d’Almeida. Since 1910, its author had spent many summers in the area and had acquired a great deal of information, however his thesis proved to be a strange mixture of folklore, sociology, psychology, poetry and field observations. Completion of the doctorate did not change his career and he remained director of the Casa Velasquez (French Institute) in Madrid, nonetheless his text would inspire Luis Buñuel to make an early film, ‘Las Hurdas: Tierra sin Pan’.

15By contrast with these rather overlooked works, the monograph by Charles Robequain on the mountains and deltalands of the Than-Hoa region in Indochina prepared its author for an influential academic career (Gourou, 1964, p. 2). Its patron, Blanchard, remarked how Robequain had left France in 1924 with a grant to study for two years at the École Française de l’Extrême-Orient in Hanoï, and then taught at the city’s Albert-Sarraut lycée, which trained the elite of Indochina. Over this time, he had no direct contact with his professor in Grenoble, who later recalled how “Robequain alone, without advice, had to develop his working methods, grasp local languages, and familiarise himself with a very new environment” from his birthplace in the southern Alps (Blanchard, 1964, p. 6). Blanchard was very impressed by Robequain’s thesis and arranged for Brunhes, Blanchard’s old friend, to serve on the examining jury. In an enthusiastic review, aimed at patron as well as author, Sion declared that this monograph “honours French scholarship and especially the Institut de Géographie Alpine in Grenoble” (Sion, 1929, p. 513). After lecturing at Poitiers and holding the chair of geography at Rennes, Robequain became professor of tropical geography at the Sorbonne in 1937 and, as will be shown, supported a generation of scholars working in tropical regions (Delvert, 1975, p. 145).

16By the end of the 1920s, a substantial amount of doctoral work, prepared under the patronage of De Martonne, Demangeon or Bernard, was reaching completion. Bernard was the oldest of these professors and three monographs on North African regions were completed by his protégés in the early 1930s. The first was a large study of the urban geography of Algiers by 58-year old René Lespès (Despois, 1944, p. 245). Its author was only slightly younger than his patron and had been tutored by Vidal at the ENS before many years spent teaching at the lycée in Algiers. Having passed the fiercely-demanding agrégation examination, Lespès was qualified to teach in the city’s nascent university, and did lecture in place of Bernard during several sessions when the professor was on leave of absence. However, as Florence Deprest has shown, Lespès was not on good terms with Gautier who had moved into the chair of geography in the local university in 1912 (Deprest, 2009, p. 259). Lespès decided to concentrate on lycée teaching, doctoral research, and writing the geographical introduction to the city’s structure plan. His doctorate was well received, with Blanchard (himself a pioneer in urban geography) declaring: “This study of Algiers is – to this day – the greatest success in urban geography” (Blanchard, 1931, p. 542). Despite such praise, Lespès devoted increasing quantities of time to the work of learned societies in Algiers and went on to write a 500-page monograph on the city of Oran (Lespès, 1938). With a rather similar career profile, François Bonniard had taught at the lycée in Bizerta while he researched a holistic regional monograph on the northern Tell of Tunisia, whose structure he had outlined earlier (Bonniard, 1925). His thesis began with an exploration of the region’s physical geography before discussing traditional ways of life, European colonization, and the development of the port of Bizerta. The second volume, with almost a hundred photographs, revealed that he was committed to fieldwork, sometimes taking his wife and children along for company. Despite having gained a state doctorate, Bonniard remained a school teacher in Tunisia.

17Bernard’s third disciple was Jean Despois who left France for North Africa in 1930 and taught at the lycée in Tunis, whilst undertaking research in the Djebel Nefousa in Libya with Rockefeller funding (Broc, 1993, p. 243). He insisted that the area presented “the advantage and the inconvenience of still being almost virgin territory. The novelty is attractive, but the geographer is a little hindered by an insufficiency of basic maps, the complete absence of geological charts, and the sparsity of meteorological observations” (Despois, 1935, p. 4). Despois declared that he had “travelled in every direction across this picturesque and harsh mountain area; there is no valley or village that I have not visited on horseback, by mule, or on foot [covering] some 1,500 kilometres” (Ibid). In fact, because of poor eyesight he would never possess a car or even learn to drive (De Planhol, 1979, p. 7). With his thesis completed, Despois moved to a lectureship at the University of Algiers in 1937 and to a chair six years later. He would remain in post in that city for two decades until he moved back to France in 1957, to finish his career at the Sorbonne.

18With personal research experience in France and several parts of Western Europe, Demangeon taught human geography at the Sorbonne from 1911 until his death in 1940, having become full professor in 1921 (Wolff, 2005). As such, he supported scholars researching aspects of economic, political, urban, rural and population geography not only in countries that he knew well or had visited briefly, but also in parts of the world where he had never set foot. Georges Lemaître’s regional monograph on the English Weald, researched whilst its author taught in London, fell well within Demangeon’s area of expertise, since he had travelled widely in the British Isles, had contacts with British geographers, and had written the volume on the British Isles for Vidal’s Géographie Universelle. Having defended his thesis, Lemaître returned to Canada where he held a teaching post in French civilization at McGill University in Montréal prior to moving to Stanford University in 1939. Together with Lucien Gallois (who retired from his Sorbonne chair in 1927), Demangeon supported Louis (Yann Morvran) Goblet who worked on the English conquest of 17th-century Ireland and taught at various institutions in Paris (Parker 1991, 1996). The work of Maurice Baumont on heavy industry and coal extraction in Germany, completed in 1928 when its author was employed by the League of Nations, likewise received Demangeon’s support. Baumont developed a distinguished career as an historian of Germany and of France during the Third Republic, being elected to the Académie des sciences morales et politiques in 1957.

19Whilst by no means a ‘globe-trotter’ like André Siegfried, Demangeon had visited Egypt briefly in 1925 to attend the 11th International Geographical Congress and, as the Parisian expert on settlement, afforded patronage to Jean Lozach, who wrote a monograph on the human geography of the Nile delta having made “numerous visits to the countryside, on foot, on the back of a donkey, by car, boat and even plane” over a dozen years (Lozach, 1935, p. 6). Demangeon also supported Marcel Clerget who prepared a very detailed study of Cairo after eight years spent teaching in Egypt, “including a long stay in Cairo, and five years of laborious research” (Clerget, 1934, p. 3). His monograph was praised for “its ambitious plan, its minuteness of detail and its wide sweep … Its weaknesses are as nothing in comparison with the vast and solid structure of accumulated fact” (Gibb, 1938, p. 472). Maurice Zimmermann had no hesitation in declaring that “this monumental book” - written by one of his former students – “does great honour to its author, at the same time as to our school of history and geography in France” (Zimmermann, 1935, p. 248). As etiquette required, both Clerget and Lozach dedicated their monographs to King Fuad I, “the enlightened promoter and protector of all scientific enterprises in the Nile valley. Former president of the Geographical Society of Egypt, His Majesty remains its High Protector” (Lozach, 1935, p. 7). Having completed his doctorate, Clerget directed the French Institute in Istanbul but ended his career as a lycée teacher back in France (Bethemont, 1996, p. 150).

20Coming from an academic family, Jacques Weulersse received the last Autour du Monde travel scholarship (1928-30) from the Foundation set up by banker Albert Kahn that would collapse in the financial crash of 1929. Weulersse wrote up his impressions of travelling through Africa from Dakar to Cape Town in Noirs et Blancs (1931), and was then based at the French Institute in Damascus between 1932 and 1938, whence he researched the human geography of north-east Syria. His monograph on the country of the Alawite people was examined in 1940, right at the end of Demangeon’s life (Dussaud, 1941; Fougères, 1943). After a period of research on industrial relocation in France, Weulersse was appointed to a lectureship in colonial geography at Aix-en-Provence in 1943 but he died at Dakar three years later, too soon to have any real impact on French academic geography (Anon., 1947, p. 16; Gourou, 1977, p. 109). By contrast, Maurice Le Lannou became an important patron for non-metropolitan research. His study of pastoral life in Sardinia, inspired by Sion, received the support of Demangeon and funding from the Rockefeller Foundation (Le Lannou, 1941, p. vii). As Jean Gottmann remarked, he “had a lively time during his field work there, and though the local Fascist authorities arrested him several times for his curiosity, he succeeded in gathering abundant material” for his thesis, but this was not examined until after his patron had died (Gottmann, 1948, 161). After a lectureship at Rennes, Le Lannou became professor at the University of Lyon in 1947 and encouraged a cohort of geographers to work on regions of the Mediterranean world, completing his own career at the Collège de France (Rochefort, 1993, p. 240). However, most of these candidates completed their theses after 1969.

21Demangeon also gave his support to Pierre Gourou, who had graduated from the University of Lyon and had doubtless been recommended by Zimmermann, Demangeon’s old friend from the ENS, and Gourou’s former teacher. After passing the agrégation examination in 1919, Gourou taught for three years in Tunis, where he had been born, and then for six years at lycées in Saigon and Hanoï, becoming a teacher at that city’s university in 1932 (Ribeiro, 1973; Jaumotte, 1998; Nicolaï, 1998; Bruneau, 2000; Bowd & Clayton, 2005). Despite his academic position in Hanoï, Gourou felt isolated in his research and his morale was sometimes low (Chevalier, 1996, p. 20). Demangeon certainly sent encouraging letters from Paris but Gourou knew that he was on his own, since the only written work his patron ever requested was the finished thesis (Bréelle, 2002, p. 341, p. 347; Bréelle, 2009). Almost sixty years later, Gourou recalled this sense of isolation in a telephone conversation in 1994 with Denis Wolff, whose doctoral thesis examined many aspects of Demangeon’s life and work (Wolff, 2005, p. 43, p. 52). Gourou’s monograph on the peasant farmers of Tonkin incorporated detailed results of fieldwork in the Red River delta, and was supported by maps and photographs produced by the colonial administration. Distinguished also by the elegance of its prose, this “original and powerful work” was heralded as a model of its kind (De Martonne, 1937, p. 263; Robequain, 1936, p. 496). Describing the deltaic landscape, Gourou wrote: “At first sight, the Delta is monotonous, greyish and without charm. But its prettiness and beauty reveal themselves little by little to the eyes of whoever agrees to undertake the necessary initiation, who follows dikes and tracks in the various seasons, and who penetrates into the villages. There are delightful scenes in these settlements. A pool with heavy water, partly covered by aquatic vegetation of a bright velvet green; the varying play of sunlight on the water according to the light but nonetheless impenetrable bamboo; a man makes his ablutions on a plank jutting out over the pool, his body shimmering as water is poured over it” (Gourou, 1936, p. 554).

22Not intending to stay in the East, Gourou accepted the chair of geography at the Free University in Brussels in 1936 before his thesis had been examined (Nicolaï, Pélissier & Raison, 2000, p. 4). However, he would have to leave Belgium during World War II to serve in the French army in 1939, and then lectured at the University of Montpellier for two years (in succession to Sion who had died in 1940), and subsequently at the University of Bordeaux where he moved into a new chair of colonial geography in 1942. In both of these positions, he exercised profound influence on students, including Jean Gallais and Gilles Sautter at Montpellier, and Jean Borde, Guy Lasserre and Paul Pélissier at Bordeaux, each of whom would produce doctoral monographs on regions far from France (Nicolaï, 1999, p. 344; Sautter, 1991, p. 15). When peace was restored, Gourou honoured his contract and returned to teach in Brussels, but in 1947 he was appointed professor at the Collège de France and thereafter divided sixteen weeks each year between the two cities until he retired in 1970 (Claval, 2006, p. 62). Since the Collège did not award degrees and Gourou was not a professor in the state system of higher education in France, he could not serve as official patron to doctoral students however he influenced Jean Roche’s work on German colonization in Brazil, Emmanuel Adicéam’s research on irrigation in India, and doubtless other investigations (Roche, 1959, p. I; Massa, 2007; Adicéam, 1966, p. xiii). Nonetheless, his name and teaching were never mentioned to students at the Institut de Géographie of the Sorbonne, who remained ignorant of the lectures he delivered each week at the Collège de France, 250 metres down the rue Saint-Jacques (Raison, 1991, p. 38; Nicolaï, 2000, p. 41). It was through his books and unofficial contacts, indeed personal friendships, with his former students, that Gourou would exercise a major role in shaping the development of geography in France (Huetz de Lemps, 2001, p. 346). For example, Guy Lasserre recalled: “the privilege of following the teaching of Professor Pierre Gourou [at Bordeaux] before he was called to the Collège de France. This master of the geography of the tropical world exercised a profound influence on me. For twenty years, he has followed all my work with benevolent interest, and I have always found him to be the most enlightened guide” (Lasserre, 1962, p. 11). Similarly, Gilles Sautter declared: “With his combination of pragmatism and rigour, his breadth of vision, his kindness and steadfastness, he was the best of masters for me” (cited in Blanc-Pamard & Pourtier, 1999, p. 202). Gourou also wrote enthusiastically about the doctoral work of his protégés. Discussing the monograph by Paul Pélissier in an 8-page review, he declared: “Everything merits praise in this work devoted to the peasant farmers of Senegal: the finesse of the enquiry, its successful implementation, the precision of writing, and intimate communion with people and landscapes, the importance [of the research], and the novelty and clarity of the results” (Gourou, 1968, p. 110). Pélissier’s career as a professor of geography and future patron of research was assured.

23De Martonne supported three doctoral scholars who completed monographs on the physical geography of distant lands during the early part of World War II. Francis Ruellan had spent the 1930s in teaching, research and administrative positions in France and Japan, including the directorship of the French Institute in Kyoto, which enabled him to research the geomorphology of the Kwansai region in central Honshu (Meynier, 1976, p. 159; Broc, 1993, p. 246). His thesis was examined in 1940 and thereafter he divided each year between posts in France and in Brazil, prior to being appointed to a chair of geography at the University of Rennes in 1957. Despite, specializing on marine and coastal studies, he also advised on the future site of Brasilia (Schmidt de Almeida, 2009, p. 57). Jean Dresch developed his early career in Morocco in response to a chance invitation by Demangeon to undertake some contract research that had come his way (Dresch, 1979, 1986; Lefébure, 2008, p. 314). During the 1930s, Dresch taught in a Muslim college and then in a lycée, whilst researching his thesis on the geomorphology of the High Atlas mountains. From his very first landing at Casablanca, he had been struck by the poverty that surrounded him (Beaujeu-Garnier, 1995). The contrast between the wealth of most Europeans and the misery of most indigenous people, directed his politics toward communism and his geography toward development issues, as well as geomorphology. His identification with the plight of the poor separated him from other geographers in Morocco, notably Jean Célérier, whose enquiries provided information for the French administration and military (El Gharboui, 1978; Naciri, 1979, 1984). Dresch’s criticisms of French colonialism and communist persuasion would lead to his expulsion from Morocco in January 1941, by order of the résident général, Charles Noguès (Tissier, 1996, p. 370; Dollfus, 1984). He completed his monograph in that year, declaring: “This research is the result of work undertaken in rather unfavourable conditions. During eight years, I have devoted all my school holidays and a year’s leave to it. I have lost all contact with research centres and libraries in the Métropole, I have not been able to participate at professional meetings, or to offer my observations for criticism. In Morocco, during my long solitary hikes, I have not had any critic other than myself. One does not work in Morocco as one does in France” (Dresch, 1941, p. vii).

  • 13 Issue 11 of Hérodote (1978) appeared shortly after Dresch’s retirement and bears the title “Géograp (...)

24Having previously returned to France in 1939 to serve in the army, Dresch noted that the coming of war brought a final and long delay in the publication of this research. “After correcting proofs, the author was cut off from his publisher, in circumstances independent of his will, and he has not been able to make the finishing touches in the composition of this book” (Ibid., p. 709). Despite his doctorate having been examined successfully, his political persuasion contributed to a delay in acquiring a university chair. Nonetheless, on a temporary basis, he replaced René Musset (imprisoned in Buchenwald for allegedly spying for the Allies) as professor of geography in the University of Caen from 1943 to 1945. Subsequently, after lecturing at Strasbourg for three years, he was appointed to a chair at the Sorbonne in 1948 where he would serve as patron to an impressive cluster of doctoral students working in North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and even parts of tropical Africa and South America (Baduel 1987). In addition, he gave his support to many researchers from overseas territories who submitted doctoral work for examination in Paris. Dresch was also director of the Institut de Géographie from 1950 to 1970, and president of the International Geographical Union between 1972 and 1976. He remained a communist to the end of his life and was a tireless opponent of exploitation and injustice.13

25Prior to retirement in 1944, De Martonne saw the doctoral research of Captain Yves Urvoy on the physical geography of the Niger valley through to completion, and continued to offer support to Hassan Awad in the Sinaï and to Étienne de Vaumas in the Lebanon, but neither man would finish his thesis until well after the end of the war. The inter-war cohort of non-metropolitan monographs was completed by four little known studies examined in 1936. With support from Sion, Adolphe Agard wrote a rather generalized study of Indochina, and administrator René Morizon produced a brief study of the Cambodian province of Pursat that was condemned by Gourou who stated: “This book does not contain everything that one might expect … it is undernourished, generally superficial, conveys little that is not published already, and does not reveal a profound study of the region” (Gourou, 1936, p. 497). Using “sights and sounds” assembled on “numerous administrative tours of duty in the whole Antaisaka area”, colonial administrator, Hubert Deschamps, presented a thesis to the Sorbonne on part of south-eastern Madagascar, presumably with support from Demangeon (Deschamps, 1936, p. 7). His subsequent career involved governing several French territories in Africa, helping to found the Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer (ORSTOM), and becoming professor of African history at the Sorbonne (Julien, 1974, p. 13-15). Finally, General Richard Thoumin delivered a monograph on the human geography of central Syria to the Institut de Géographie Alpine in Grenoble, whose patron Blanchard had visited the protectorate after World War I. He and co-examiner Daniel Faucher – a former student at Grenoble - were critical of Thoumin’s discussion of agriculture and irrigation, and suggested a number of “possible ways whereby we would like to see this good work made even better” (Faucher & Blanchard, 1937, p. 267). Historian Lucien Febvre was more direct: “One often has the impression that the facts have not been digested sufficiently … In short, this is the dossier for an instructive book to which this monograph does not match up” (Febvre, 1940, p. 174).

26Between 1920 and 1944, two dozen non-metropolitan monographs of variable quality were completed, averaging 445 pages in length, virtually identical with the mean for the first group (Table I). Their authors had a mean age of 39 years, which was higher than for the men in the first cohort, with the figure being inflated by Lespès (aged 58 on completion), Legendre (49), Goblet (49) and Ancel (48). Almost all of these non-metropolitan studies related to parts of the French-speaking realm.

Phase III: From an inter-war trickle to a post-war flood

  • 14 The young René Raynal had a particularly eventful war, being caught up in the American landing in N (...)

27Patrons and younger scholars were mobilized during World War II, with Gourou and Robequain enlisting in 1939, and the latter spending two years as a prisoner of war before returning to teach at the Sorbonne (Battistini, 1964, p. 2). Many geographers who were working on state doctorates, or would proceed to do so, were in the armed services, in prisoner-of-war camps, or involved with the Resistance.14 For example, Jacques Dupuis admitted that his ambition to study India had become focused “during long captivity in East Prussia (1940-45), when reading various German and French books convinced me that the new humanism should draw on a wider base than Europe … It was in that spirit that I started to study Hindi in 1945” (Dupuis, 1960, p. 5). The dark days of World War II represented a challenging time for geographical publication in France and caused an hiatus in the completion of non-metropolitan monographs; none was examined in 1943 or 1944, or even in 1946 or 1948 (Beauguitte 2008). A dozen projected titles that had been listed as early as 1929 would never be completed (De Martonne, 1929, p. 65). Demangeon’s death in 1940 and the retirement of De Martonne four years later removed the leading patrons from the academic scene. Bernard had retired in 1933 and his teaching on North Africa was covered by Marcel Larnaude but, with neither a doctorate nor a professorial chair, he was not eligible to supervise doctoral work (Deprest, 2009, p. 259).

28André Cholley was the successor to De Martonne at the Sorbonne, and gave his support to Awad, who completed his study of the geomorphology of the central Sinaï peninsula in 1950 (and proceeded to teach in Egypt and in Morocco), and to De Vaumas, whose work on the mountains of Lebanon was examined in 1953, almost two decades after his initial fieldwork in the summer of 1935. Military service had then followed and wartime occupation of De Vaumas’s study area further interrupted his research, but this would be assisted by two years in the Lebanon from 1945 to 1947. As a Catholic priest, he thanked the Archbishop of Paris for granting him study leave, and the Company of Jesus and the Rector of the Saint Joseph University at Beirut for hospitality. “How beautiful to be alive and how immense is the glory of God”, figured among his words of dedication (De Vaumas, 1954, p. 12). In addition, to giving patronage to De Martonne’s students and to Pierre Monbeig, whose work on Brazil had been started under Demangeon, Cholley gave support to his own researchers in both physical and human geography. These included André Blanc in western Croatia, Xavier de Planhol in Anatolia, Jean Pouquet in Algeria, and Jean Malaurie, whose study of the geomorphology of north-eastern Greenland was based on fourteen months of solitary fieldwork in 1950-51 and subsequent visits. Although written up, it would not be examined until 1962 since its author was involved in several long expeditions in northern Canada and the eastern Arctic (Malaurie, 1968, p. 10).

29Charles Robequain was patron to eight researchers in tropical regions, and supported their work in various ways. After war service, Jean Delvert taught in the lycée at Phnom Penh, before becoming headmaster and then chief of the education service for Cambodia where he was based for ten years (Anon., 1965, p. 231). With supreme understatement, he remarked that “the long period of war and insecurity (1947-54) did not facilitate our research” into the country’s peasantry, with much documentation already destroyed during the “Japanese action” in 1945 and no reliable census data being produced after 1921 (Delvert, 1961, p. 9). He duly dedicated his monograph to the memory of fourteen of his students who had been killed, and, unlike Gourou, extended his thanks to many local assistants (Ibid). Paul Moral used his position at the Mission Universitaire Française in Port-au-Prince as a base for his enquiries into rural life in Haiti, and both Jacques Dupuis and Emmanuel Adicéam taught at the “old French college” of Pondichéry in India (Dupuis, 1960, p. 5). Dupuis was greatly indebted to Adicéam, who was a “pure Tamil [and] a perceptive guide who helped me to leave my own environment as a foreigner to penetrate the culture into which he was born and remained closely tied through his family” (Ibid., 6).

30In tropical Africa, Jean Gallais first visited Dakar on military service in 1950, and was later based at the Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (IFAN) in that city (Solotareff, 1996, p. 248; De Suremain, 2004). Subsequently, he spent almost three years in the interior delta of the Niger, working with the Mission d’Études et d’Aménagement du Niger for which Gourou was advisor (Retaillé, 1999, p. 93). Later support for Gallais came through the ORSTOM, which also funded five years of research by Gilles Sautter in Brazzaville, and assisted the doctoral work of Jean Cabot into the cultivation of cotton and rice in the middle Logone valley in Chad (Raison, 2005, p. 326). From 1952 to 1959, the IFAN provided an academic base from which Gérard Brasseur organized his fieldwork in Mali (D’Alessandro-Scarpari, 2005, p. 42). By the late 1950s, Robequain’s health was deteriorating but in 1958 he visited Gallais in Niger, “despite extreme fatigue, which we supposed was due to overwork or depression, [but] he already harboured a much graver disease” (Gallais, 1968, p. 3). Robequain died five years later, having seen only Delvert, Moral and Dupuis through to completion. Thereafter, Adicéam received support from Jean Despois, and the Africanists were assisted by Pierre Monbeig, who succeeded Robequain in the chair of tropical geography at the Sorbonne, despite his personal expertise being in Brazil where he had lectured at the University of Sao Paulo from 1935 to 1946 (Dollfus, 1987, p. 285; Da Costa Gomes & Droulers, 1996, p. 261; Théry & Droulers, 1991; Angotti-Salgueiro, 2002).

  • 15 Dresch contributed the section on the Middle East in the two-volume textbook, La Méditerranée et le (...)
  • 16 Pierre Birot served as patron to an important cluster of scholars who researched aspects of the phy (...)

31Among professors of geography at the Sorbonne, it was Dresch who attracted the largest cluster of non-metropolitan researchers in the cohort under discussion, with five in Morocco, two each in Tunisia, Latin America and the Near East, and one in tropical Africa, most of whom were preparing major monographs in physical geography. The majority of these men had started their field research when they were lycée teachers in North Africa and were then appointed to lecture in the local university where colleagues provided mutual support. This was especially the case in Morocco where, as Gaston Beaudet noted, fellow geographers and geologists at the nascent University of Rabat “often lent an attentive ear to my presentations and my complaints, encouraging me when it was needed, [and] often accompanying me in the field” (Beaudet, 1969, p. 6). Very similar comments of gratitude for collegial support were made by René Raynal, Fernand Joly, Jean Le Coz and Gérard Maurer in their dedications (Raynal, 1961, p. 7; Joly, 1962, p. 7; Le Coz, 1964, p. 9; Maurer, 1968, p. vii). Always mindful of the isolation he had experienced in the 1930s, Dresch visited his researchers in their study areas, for example undertaking two fieldtrips with Beaudet “when he played devil’s advocate to make me refine my observations and make my hypotheses more rigorous” (Ibid., p. 5). Dresch’s patronage of Habdul Hamidé and Abid Bagh, who wrote about their home country of Syria, may well have been an extension of his North African interests.15 Among the remaining Sorbonne professoriate, Pierre Birot, André Guilcher, Georges Chabot, Jean Despois and Pierre Monbeig each attracted doctoral candidates working outside France, but three of Monbeig’s four candidates had previously been Robequain’s students.16

32After nineteen non-metropolitan monographs being examined during the 1950s, the rate of completion accelerated to forty-one between 1960 and 1969, thereby providing professors for the French system of higher education that not only would undergo rapid expansion to cater for the ‘baby-boom’ generation but also would be reorganized in the wake of the social upheavals of 1968. A state doctorate from the Sorbonne continued to be widely regarded as the pinnacle of achievement, but the system of patronage became more diverse in the later years as more professors were appointed in provincial universities who supported doctoral students of their own. The only monograph in the present cohort to be completed at the University of Algiers was the work of Robert Tinthoin who, in 1945, introduced his study of the physical geography of the Oranais region thus: “For seventeen years, we conducted long and difficult journeys in the field. When we were teaching [in the lycée] we devoted all our holidays to research, even Thursdays and Sundays. Then we took advantage of our tours of inspection as départemental archivist. We travelled on foot, on horseback, by carriage, by car and recently by plane, through the whole département of Oran” (Tinthoin, 1945, p. 7). As a product of Algiers rather than the Sorbonne, his monograph was simply listed among books received in the Annales de Géographie, rather than being reviewed (Anon., 1949, p. 169). Following his doctorate, Tinthoin lectured at the University of Algiers but he decided to return to France in 1956, as political conditions worsened during the struggle for Algerian liberation (1954-62), finding work as an archivist in the Lozère.

33After defending his thesis on European colonization on the Chelif plains, Xavier Yacono lectured at the University of Algiers from 1956 to 1962 before quitting his birthplace in search of an academic post in France, which he found eventually in the history department of the University of Toulouse. Pierre Rognon lectured in Algiers during the same period and was explicit about the difficulties that he and other French academics experienced in Algeria during the war of independence. “As I decided on making a study in the heart of the Sahara, I was not in search of distinctiveness or sporting exploits; this choice was imposed by the difficult circumstances of researching in Algeria between 1954 and 1962. Like other geographers who abandoned their research in the Atlas, the high plains, and Kabylia, I had to abandon the Aurès area, where I had taken my first steps as a researcher in 1952-53, for a region where I hoped to find the calm indispensable for sustained research. Remoteness and slight economic significance made me choose the Hoggar region, in the hope that it would perhaps remain outside the zones disturbed by war. This hope was realized [but] I encountered enormous difficulties in organizing solitary journeys in an empty area of dissected terrain, with just the derisory resources of an assistant lecturer to call upon” (Rognon, 1967, p. 7). Robert Capot-Rey, his head of department at Algiers - who had lost a leg during World War I - accompanied him on one expedition “despite the lack of comfort in my bivouac”, and Rognon duly defended his thesis at the Sorbonne in 1967 (Ibid.). By contrast, other scholars abandoned doctoral research in Algeria or had the completion of their work – and hence the progression of their academic careers – delayed severely (Bisson & Rognon, 1978, p. 65). Many more French geographers gained first-hand knowledge of pre-independence Algeria through conscription for military service (for example, Frémont, 1982).

34Back on the French mainland, five candidates presented their work at the University of Lyon, including Eugène Revert whose work on Martinique had been supported initially by Demangeon and then, after his death, by André Allix. In a very varied career, Revert first taught French in the University of Helsinki and then history and geography in nine lycées in locations as different as Damascus, Le Havre, and for five years Fort-de-France on Martinique. Subsequently, he served as director of education in the French West Indies (1937-41), completed his thesis on Martinique in 1947, occupied the chair of colonial geography at Bordeaux (1947-52) vacated by Gourou, was then director of education at the Ministère de la France d’Outre-Mer (1952-57), and finally in 1957 moved to a professorial chair at Caen where he died within the year (Papy, 1957; Allix, 1958). Jean Corbel’s comparative study of karst features in several European regions, visited during successive long vacations, was also supported by Allix and enabled its author to leave school teaching for a research career cut short in 1970 by a fatal road accident (Lebeau, 1971, p. 3). Nazim Moussly’s monograph on hydrological problems in Syria reflected a long-standing interest in the Near East among academics in Lyon, whilst the theses by Jean Pelletier on the geomorphology of Sardinia and by Renée Rochefort on work and workers in Sicily were expressions of Le Lannou’s commitment to the Mediterranean world (Gibert, 1952; Rochefort, 1993, p. 240).

35At Rennes, André Meynier supported work by Pierre Flatrès on the agrarian geography of Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man, and by Pierre Biays on eastern sections of the Canadian Shield (Moreau, 1988, p. 3; Dorion, 1965; Dacharry, 1989). Two Alpine monographs by Jean Loup, on the Valais region, and by Bernard Janin, on the Val d’Aosta, were supported at Grenoble by Paul Veyret, who also served as patron to Pierre Billard who taught for eight years in the Cameroun where he researched the territory’s communication systems (Bourgeat & Gagnol, 2007). In a critical review of this thesis, Veyret noted: “He has worked alone, far from all intellectual support, from all guidance; he has often been carried away by his desire to say everything, by his concern not to neglect anything” (Veyret, 1962, p. 140). Given such a lack of support and the requirements of a teaching career in secondary education where assimilation of facts was praiseworthy, the encyclopaedic nature of Billard’s work was hardly surprising. Elsewhere in provincial France, Étienne Juillard supported Paul Castela at Strasbourg, Daniel Faucher, François Taillefer and their successors oversaw Jean Sermet at Toulouse, and Gaston Galtier was patron to François Doumenge at Montpellier (albeit with substantial help from André Guilcher)(Juillard,1971; Doumenge, 1966, p. xi; Vanney, 1994, p. 294).

36By contrast with this meagre production, doctoral work on tropical territories flourished at the University of Bordeaux where Gourou had inspired students in the early 1940s (Calbérac, 2010, vol. 2, p. 260). Subsequently, these candidates worked under the patronage of Revert until 1952, and more especially of Louis Papy, who strove to sustain tropical geography despite his own doctorate having been concerned with the littoral of western France between the Loire and the Gironde (Huetz de Lemps, 1997, p. 554). After many years teaching and administering on Réunion, Jean Defos du Rau defended his thesis about this island in the Indian Ocean in 1958, and was followed by Guy Lasserre who presented his monograph about Guadeloupe in 1961 (Benjelloun, 2008, p. 65; Veyret, 1962). The Belgian geographer Henri Nicolaï completed his thesis on the Kwilu region of the Congo in 1963, and three years later Jean Borde’s monograph on the geomorphology of the Andes of Santiago was examined (Cabot, 1966; Veyret, 1968). A subsequent burst of activity occurred at Bordeaux in 1968-69 when three monographs were completed on regions beyond France: by Jean Hazera on the geomorphology of the Basque territory in Spain, by Pierre Vennetier on the Congo-Brazzaville region, and by Roland Paskoff on semi-arid areas in Chile (Viers, 1970, 1987; Psuty, 2009).

37The third cohort of monographs had an average length of 575 pages, some twenty more than their metropolitan counterparts, however four approached twice that length (Clout, 2009, p. 17). Jean Despois insisted that the two-volume thesis by Jean Le Coz on the Rharb region of Morocco was “really too big. Who would have the leisure to read … these thousand pages of closely printed text?” (Despois, 1965, p. 487; Savey, Cabot & Carrière, 1991). Most of this third group of monographs were completed when their authors were in their early forties (mean age 44 years)(Table 1). Few were the result of youthful energy, and at the other extreme of the age spectrum came Jean Sermet who had started work in Spain in 1931, travelling extensively through Andalusia in subsequent school holidays “by train, coach, motocyclette, or on foot”, only to suffer the great misfortune of all his research materials being destroyed when the Casa Velasquez in Madrid was bombed in the autumn of 1936 (Broc, 1997, p. 365-66). With great fortitude, Sermet started again and supported himself for a quarter century as a lycée teacher and adjunct lecturer at the University of Toulouse. By the time he had completed his monograph on Andalusia in 1969, he had reached 62 years of age (Péchoux 2003). His patron, Daniel Faucher had refused to visit him in the field, since he wanted Sermet to work on the Extremadura. One reviewer praised his quantity of local knowledge but remarked that Sermet’s encyclopaedic approach was not one to be recommended to future scholars (Hamelin 1969).

38During the greater part of the 20th century, men dominated the highest reaches of the geographical world in France, despite the student body being equally divided between the sexes, and many lycée teachers being women. Only eight women were among the first hundred scholars who wrote doctoral monographs on regions of France, and just three submitted doctorates on non-metropolitan territories (Clout, 2009, p. 71). Nonetheless, many women completed briefer research memoirs for the diplôme d’études supérieures award. At the age of 54, Yvette Barbaza finished her study of the cultural landscapes and tourism of the Costa Brava, having raised a family, taught in lycées for many years, and finally receiving a research fellowship to enable her to write up, defend and move to a professorship (Llambrich 2001, 2010). By contrast, Renée Rochefort remained unmarried and dedicated herself to school teaching, lecturing and her doctorate on work and workers in Sicily. Completed at the age of 37, this led to a university chair from which she promoted social geography (Vant, 1984; Calbérac, 2010, vol. 2, p. 330). Her unconventional approach was stressed by Germaine Veyret-Vernier who, nonetheless, praised her thesis for demonstrating “fine academic qualities, vigorous thought, subtle analysis, meaningful observation, [and] grasp of humanity. Its richness of documentation, qualities of exposition and style, profound intimacy with the region, its understanding and enthusiasm [all] contribute to making the book of Renée Rochefort both instructive and captivating” (Veyret-Vernier, 1961, p. 794). Writing in an historical journal, Etienne Juillard appreciated her innovative and “completely successful” approach (Juillard, 1964, p. 589). Alice Picard also defended her thesis on the valleys of the Oetztal massif at the age of 37, being chided for not consulting experts on mountain geography at the Institut de Géographie Alpine (Veyret-Verner, 1964, p. 372). She soon obtained a university chair and in 1968 was elected faculty dean at the University of Brest, the first female academic in France to hold such a post (Bastié, 2003, p. 101). Then as Alice Saunier-Séïté, she directed a technical institute before becoming the first woman rector of an academy, at Reims. Always active in politics, she was appointed secretary of state for higher education and then minister for universities (1976-81)(Bourgeat, 2010, p. 462). From 1981 to 1994 she held a professorial chair at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers – again the first woman in such a post – and was also an elected councillor in Paris (1983-2001). In 1995, she was honoured by election to the Académie des sciences morales et politiques. Having directed her energies to civic activity as well as research, teaching and administration, her life path was very different from that of the average holder of a state doctorate.

Conclusion: Supporting scientific discovery and self-discovery

39By 1969, one hundred doctoral monographs dealing with non-metropolitan territories had been defended successfully by French geographers. This flow of work would continue for many years, despite no new registrations for the state doctorate being accepted in the French higher education system after 1984, when the doctorat nouveau régime was introduced, similar in length and duration of study to the British or North American PhD. However, many candidates remained registered for the lengthy, old-style state doctorate in geography, which would not disappear until the final thesis was examined in 2001 (Robic, 2006, p. 185-201). During the post-war years, most researchers working in territories under French administration beyond metropolitan France, had earned their living as lycée teachers and made their field enquiries at weekends and during vacations, just as their predecessors had done. Years of employment in the francophone, state system of secondary education, was a familiar experience. For example, Hildebert Isnard’s research on viticulture in Algeria, undertaken between 1935 and 1947, “remained a matter of free time, [being] fitted into a teaching timetable in a collège or lycée. Fieldwork in Algeria was constrained by the often inconvenient timetables of rural buses” (Miège, 1984, p. 462). A fortunate few would then move to teaching posts in French-speaking universities in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Indochina, Madagascar or territories in tropical Africa, before completing their theses and returning to a lectureship or ideally to a university chair in metropolitan France. Others were based in the network of French lycées and institutes that promoted French culture across the globe, as teachers (such as Jean Demangeot who taught for eleven years in the lycée in Rome), directors (such as Legendre and Hazera in Spain, and Ruellan in Japan), or as resident researchers (such as De Planhol in Istanbul, and Sermet, Monbeig and Huetz de Lemps at the Casa Velasquez in Madrid).

40The French scientific institute (IFAN), established at Dakar in 1938, provided an academic home, equipment, vehicles and collegial support for researchers in ‘Black Africa’, such as Gabriel Rougerie who used it as a base from which to organize six years of fieldwork in the Ivory Coast. An equivalent institute at Tananarive supported René Battistini for five years of research on the physical landscapes of southernmost Madagascar. Other doctoral researchers taught in foreign universities, including Denis in Buenos-Aires, Monbeig at Sao Paulo, Borde and Paskoff at Santiago, Biays at Laval in Québec City, and Blanc in Zagreb (Miossec, 2006, p. 303). A minority were civilian or military administrators, or served as directors of local education services (such as Gautier in Madagascar, Revert in the Antilles, Delvert in Cambodia, and Defos du Rau on Réunion). Olivier Dollfus was cultural attaché at the French Embassy in Lima and also lectured at the University of San Marcos (Deler, 2005). Not surprisingly, tension existed between those who undertook research part-time and often at their own expense, and others who prepared doctoral monographs as full-time researchers (Vogt, 1966, p. 289). Finally, scholars who were in holy orders took advantage of ecclesiastical contacts, among the Jesuits of Lebanon in the case of De Vaumas, and among the Benedictines, “who so kindly opened the archives of San Pietro Abbey”, in the case of Father Henri Desplanques in Umbria (Desplanques, 1969, p. 6; Desreumaux, 1985).

  • 17 This network of support is viewed with a certain degree of envy by many geographers of other nation (...)

41Three innovations with respect to financial support were set up after 1940, two of which covered domestic as well as non-metropolitan research. The first was the creation after 1942 of a very small number of assistant posts, whereby young academics supported a professor in the French state system of higher education during teaching terms and did research in vacations. In practice, this was not greatly different from holding a teaching post in a lycée but it provided access to university libraries and equipment. The second source involved funding made available through the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, established in 1945 on earlier foundations, which assisted some doctoral candidates (Orain & Sol, 2007). A few young scholars were funded by the CNRS for full-time research but support usually came to meet costs of travel or cartography, or to liberate time whilst writing up. The case of Flatrès was rather unusual, since he was funded by the CNRS for three whole years of research (1950-53) in Ireland and Wales, after having three vacation grants in the late 1940s (Moreau, 1988, p. 3). More typical was the experience of Blanc, Dupuis and many others who had CNRS support for a couple of years when writing up. The third source of funding was provided by the ORSTOM, established in 1943, which employed staff to undertake government-sponsored research projects that might include work that could be submitted for a state doctorate. Thus, after teaching for four years in the lycée at Brazzaville, Vennetier received ORSTOM support for his doctoral research in the surrounding region (Vennetier, 1968, p. 2). The existence of French-speaking lycées, universities and research institutes in French territories abroad meant there was a network of support, in addition to the variable contact with one’s patron, for French geographers who chose to write their doctoral monographs beyond metropolitan France (Figure 1).17 It is hardly surprising, that only one-third related to regions outside the francophone realm. Doctoral coverage of many parts of the world remained slight in 1969 but the picture would change substantially in the years ahead (Robic 2006, p. 185-201).

42Given the small number of chairs of geography in French universities during the first half of the 20th century (about twenty in 1920 and 1939, and double that number in 1955), Vidal, De Martonne, Demangeon and Blanchard supported scholars working beyond France even though they had little or no personal familiarity with these territories. As professor of colonial geography, Dubois focused his attention on scholars writing monographs about regions beyond metropolitan France, however some of these were library studies and Dubois himself was not a practitioner of fieldwork. Bernard developed knowledge of North Africa through his own reading but also supported scholars undertaking original field research in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. By contrast, both Robequain and Dresch acquired prolonged experience beyond France, which they deployed through their patronage of researchers in tropical and semi-arid environments. By virtue of his unconventional position at the Collège de France, Gourou exercised his influence through his writing and friendships with former students, rather than by official contact. Professors at the Sorbonne dominated networks of patronage for doctoral work on metropolitan France and beyond however an important focus of research on tropical lands emerged at Bordeaux (Péhaut, 1994). As the Centre d’Études de Géographie Tropicale (CEGET), it received large quantities of CNRS funding from 1968 to 1992 (Huetz de Lemps, 1997, p. 554; Pourtier, 2008; Pélissier, 2008).

43As the decades passed, French scholars amassed an impressive quantity of geographical knowledge about non-metropolitan territories that they incorporated in their monographs and in articles for learned journals (Beaujeu-Garnier, Chabot & Clozier 1957, p. 197-280). Many developed a passionate interest in their area of study that often survived their return to France. They had adopted other lands and had, in turn, been adopted by them (Mead 1963). It is true that some authors dedicated their monographs to their patrons, to family members alive or deceased or to their students, but many dedicated their work to the region and its people with which they identified. For example, De Planhol thanked “the nomads and farmers of Anatolia”, and Blanc cited “the mayors, teachers, shepherds, woodcutters, farmers and artisans – Serb, Croat, and Slovene – who became my friends” (De Planhol, 1958, p. i; Blanc, 1957, p. ix). Pelletier admitted that he “appreciated only later, the subtle attraction of Sardinia” but insisted that writing his thesis was “almost like paying back a debt to a country that gave me my first scientific joys and profoundly influenced my thinking” (Pelletier, 1960, p. 1). Father Desplanques recalled Jules Sion’s elegant descriptions of Tuscany and Umbria in the Géographie Universelle, written “as one would describe a work of art. I wanted to visit them, to walk across the plains and into the hills to question the farmers. As a northerner, familiar with the Flemish countryside, I was captivated, like so many others, by the beauty of the landscapes … The welcome of the people did the rest … I returned to this region, which I loved like a second homeland, almost every year since 1952, now [in 1969] totalling more than three years in all” (Desplanques, 1969, p. 5).

44René Battistini evoked his first visit to the southern tip of Madagascar in August 1955, declaring: “Those five days were decisive; I have never ceased to love the interminable coast with its fascinating monotony, strange bush landscapes, and the immense and deserted stretches in the interior, where one’s view is bounded only by the silhouette of distant mountains. This purity and naked scenery are synonymous with freedom, and there are few regions in the world where one can be so free” (Battistini, 1964, p. 1). In like fashion, Gérard Maurer admitted: “When as a young teacher at the lycée in Fès, I undertook my first journeys, I did not imagine that I would devote fifteen years of my life to studying the Rif mountains. Despite harsh difficulties in the field and moments of discouragement, these years will count among my happiest, since they left an unforgettable memory of beautiful landscapes, of touching hospitality from mountain people, and the friendship of all those who advised and supported me” (Maurer, 1968, p. vii). As well as sojourning away from home, conducting detailed investigations and adding to the sum of geographical knowledge, researching a state doctorate in distant places was also a remarkable exercise in self-discovery for generations of French geographers during the 20th century. The ultimate ambition of many of them was to occupy a professorial chair in a university in France, although for some this was not achieved immediately but only after serving for a time as a professor in a university abroad or as a senior lecturer at an institution of higher education in the métropole.

  • 18 Gourou’s thesis was reissued in 1965 by the Mouton publishing house in The Hague, as was Dresch’s t (...)

45Some of the earlier non-metropolitan monographs under discussion have almost faded into oblivion, their existence and their authorship known only to scholars with specialist interest in the history of geography, or in some instances in early French colonial activities or the teaching of ‘colonial geography’ (Claval, 2005; Singaravélou 2008, 2011). Without doubt, other newer texts retain their relevance as sources of information on distant places in the middle years of the twentieth century. Some monographs have been the object of detailed research by recent scholars, such as Dany Bréelle who explored regional discourse in the theses of Charles Robequain and Pierre Gourou, and Gavin Bowd and Daniel Clayton who combine their skills of linguist and geographer to use the writing of Gourou as a touchstone for nourishing broad considerations of tropicality, orientalism and colonialism from a post-colonial perspective that has been stimulated by the writings of historian David Arnold as well as by the works of Edward Saïd (Bréelle, 2002, 2009; Bowd and Clayton, 2005a, 2005b; Arnold 1996; Saïd, 2003).18 In a rather different frame, Gourou’s work has been appraised and re-appraised by several generations of French geographers, espousing different methodological positions and having variable research experience beyond France, in order to probe such controversial notions as ‘tropical geography’, ‘tropicality’, ‘underdevelopment’, the ‘Third World’, and the ‘Global South’, each of which carries distinctive assemblages of intellectual and socio-political baggage and continues to stimulate lively debate (for example, Dollfus, Taillard et al., 1984; Bruneau & Dory, 1989; Nicolaï, Pélissier & Raison, 2000; and especially Velasco-Graciet, 2008). These debates, ranging theorists against empiricists, fieldworkers against library scholars, and geographers of one political/ ideological position against those of another, have been particularly lively among French-speaking academics and have assumed rather different dimensions and chronologies from those among their Anglo-American counterparts (Bruneau, 2008). Without doubt, the first one hundred non-metropolitan monographs – like their metropolitan counterparts – represent a distinctive and formidable monument in the history of French geographical scholarship, with some at least being worthy of continued attention and acclaim.

Figure 1. Regions studied in the first one hundred non-metropolitan monographs

Figure 1. Regions studied in the first one hundred non-metropolitan monographs
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Dresch J., 1986, « Jean Dresch et le Maghreb: entretien », Revue de l’Occident Musulman et de la Méditerranée, vol. 41-42, 19-26.

Dufaure J-J. (dir.), 1984, « La Mobilité des paysages méditerranéens », Revue Géographique des Pyrénées et du Sud-Ouest: Travaux II, Toulouse.

Dussaud R., 1941, « Le pays des Alaouites », Syria, vol. 22, 286-288.

El Gharbaoui A., 1978, « Recherche géographique et engagement politique au Maroc », Hérodote vol. 11, 87-99.

Faucher D. & Blanchard R., 1937, « Une étude géographique des montagnes syriennes », Revue de Géographie Alpine, vol. 25, 261-267.

Febvre L., 1940, « Un géographe en Syrie », Annales d’Histoire Sociale, vol. 2, 174.

Fougères M., 1943, « En Syrie », Mélanges d’Histoire Sociale, vol. 3, 116-117.

Freeman, T.W., 1967, The Geographer’s Craft, Manchester, University of Manchester Press.

Frémont A., 1982, Algérie-El Djazaïr, Les carnets de guerre et de terrain d’un géographe, Paris, Maspero.

Gallois L., 1898, « Des agglomérations urbaines dans l’Europe contemporaine », Annales de Géographie, vol. 7, 56.

Gallois L., 1931, « Nécrologie: Henri Schirmer », Annales de Géographie, vol. 40, 678.

Gibb H.A.R., 1938, “Review: Le Caire”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, vol. 9, 472-473.

Gibert A., 1952, « Le problème de l’eau en Syrie », Revue de Géographie de Lyon, vol. 27, 200-202.

Gottmann J., 1948, « Pâtres et paysans de Sardaigne », Geographical Review vol. 38, 161-62.

Gourou P., 1936, « R. Morizon: La province cambodgienne de Pursat », Bulletin de l’Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, vol. 36, 497-498.

Gourou P., 1964, « Charles Robequain, 1897-1963 », Annales de Géographie, vol. 73, 1-7.

Gourou P., 1968, « Les paysans du Sénégal », Annales de Géographie, vol. 77, 100-117.

Gourou P., 1977, « Jacques Weulersse, 1905-1946 », Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies, vol. 1, 107-110.

Guilcher A., 1966, « Jacques Bourcart, 1891-1965 », Annales de Géographie, vol. 75, 304-306.

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Hallair G., 2005, Le géographe Emmanuel de Martonne et l’Europe centrale, Paris, PRODIG.

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Huetz de Lemps A., 2001, « Guy Lasserre, 1920-2001 », Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, vol. 54, 345-368.

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Joly F., 2002, « Hommage à René Raynal », Géomorphologie, vol. 8, 269-271.

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Meynier A., 1969, Histoire de la pensée géographique en France, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France.

Meynier A., 1976, « Francis Ruellan, 1894-1975 », Norois, vol. 23, 159-160.

Miège J., 1984, « Hildebert Isnard, 1904-1983 », Annales de Géographie, vol. 93, 462-466.

Miossec A., 2006, « Hommage à Roland Paskoff, 1933-2005 », Géomorphologie, vol. 4, 303-306.

Montigny G., 1997, “Paul Meuriot, 1861-1919”, Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies, vol. 16, 45-52.

Moreau J-P., 1988, « Pierre Flatrès: l’homme et l’œuvre », in Campagnes et littoraux d’Europe: Mélanges offerts à Pierre Flatrès, Lille, Société de Géographie de Lille et Institut de Géographie de Lille, 3-7.

Naciri M., 1979, « Une géographie coloniale », Hérodote vol. 13, 36-59.

Naciri M., 1984, « La géographie coloniale: une ‘science appliquée’ à la colonisation. Perceptions et interprétations du fait colonial chez J. Célérier et G. Hardy » in Vatin J-C., (dir.), Connaissances du Maghreb: sciences sociales et colonisation, Paris, CNRS, 309-43.

Nicolaï H., 1998, « In memoriam: Pierre Gourou », Revue Belge de Géographie, vol. 64, 109-114.

Nicolaï H., 1999, « Pierre Gourou, 1900-1999 », Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, vol. 52, 341-346.

Nicolaï H., Pélissier, P. & Raison, J-P., (dir.), 2000, Un géographe dans son siècle: actualité de Pierre Gourou, Paris, Karthala.

Orain O., 2009, De plain-pied dans le monde: écriture et réalisme dans la géographie française au XXe siècle, Paris, L’Harmattan.

Orain O. & Sol M-P., 2007, « Les géographes et le travail collectif », La Revue pour l’Histoire du CNRS, vol. 18, mis en ligne le 3 octobre 2009.

Papy L., 1957, « Eugène Revert, 1895-1957 », Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, vol. 10, 385-386.

Parker G., 1991, « Yves-Marie Goblet, 1881-1955 », Geographers Biobibliographical Studies, vol. 13, 39-44.

Parker G., 1996, « La géographie politique de Yves-Marie Goblet, 1881-1955 » in Claval P. & Sanguin A-L., (dir.), La Géographie française à l’époque classique, Paris, L’Harmattan, 207-214.

Péchoux P-Y., 2003, « Jean Sermet, 1907-2003 », Bulletin de la Société de Géographie de Toulouse, vol. 283, 3-5.

Péchoux P-Y. & Sivignon M., 1995, « Jacques Ancel, 1882-1943, géographe entre deux guerres », in Claval P. & Sanguin A-L., (dir), La Géographie française à l’époque classique, Paris, L’Harmattan, 215-228.

Péhaut Y., 1994, « Géographie, colonies et commerce à Bordeaux, 1874-1939 », in Bruneau, M. & Dory, D., (dir.), Géographie des colonisations, XVe-XXe siècles, Paris, L’Harmattan, 77-94.

Pélissier P., 2008, « Pour une tropicalité vivante », in Velasco-Graciet H., (dir.), Les tropiques des géographes, Pessac, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine, 201-211.

Perret R., 1949, « Augustin Bernard, 1865-1947 », L’Information Géographique, vol. 12, 159-160.

Pinchemel P., 1977, « Introduction », Geographers Biobibliographical Studies, vol. 1, vii-viii.

Planhol X. de, 1979, « Hommage à Jean Despois, 1901-1978 », Acta Geographica, vol. 37, 2-7.

Pourtier R., 2008, « Controverses tropicales: le paradigme perdu et retrouvé », in Velasco-Graciet H., (dir.), Les tropiques des géographes, Pessac, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine, 147-157.

Pourtier R., 2010, « Regards géographiques sur 50 ans d’indépendance africaine », Géographies, vol. 87, 3-14.

Psuty N., 2009, « A tribute to Roland Paskoff, 1933-2005 », Geomorphology, vol. 104, 1-3.

Raison J-P., 1991, « Le va-et-vient d’un sédentaire contrarié », in Blanc-Pamard, C., (dir.), Histoires de Géographes, Paris, CNRS, 35-49.

Raison J-P., 2005, “Tropicalism in French geography”, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 26, 323-338.

Retaillé D., 1999, « Jean Gallais, 1926-1998 », Annales de Géographie, vol. 108, 90-95.

Ribeiro O., 1973, « La pensée géographique de Pierre Gourou », Annales de Géographie, vol. 82, 1-7.

Rivière d’Arc H., 2007, « Le ‘reseau’ Amérique latine », La Revue pour l’Histoire du CNRS, vol. 18, mis en ligne le 3 octobre 2009.

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Robic M-C., (dir.), 2006, Couvrir le monde. Un grand XXe siècle de géographie française, Paris, ADPF.

Rochefort R., 1993, « La Méditerranée dans l’œuvre de Maurice Le Lannou », Revue de Géographie de Lyon, vol. 68, 239-242.

Saïd E., 2003, Orientalism, London, Penguin.

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Sautter G., 1991, « Journal d’un curieux », in Blanc-Pamard, C., (dir.), Histoires de Géographes, Paris, CNRS, 11-20.

Savey S., Cabot J. & Carrière P., 1991, « Jean Le Coz », Bulletin de la Société Languedocienne de Géographie, vol. 25, 5-30.

Schirmer H., 1902, « Madagascar, par E-F. Gautier », Annales de Géographie, vol. 9, 460-462.

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Appendix. One Hundred Non-Metropolitan Monographs, 1893-1969

This appendix shows the year of thesis defence, the author’s name, an abbreviated version of the title of the monograph, the number of printed pages, the patron, the awarding university of the state doctorate, the life span of the author, the date of publication if different from the year of award, and the place of publication if other than Paris. The examining universities are:- A, Algiers; B, Bordeaux; G, Grenoble; L, Lyon; M, Montpellier; P, Paris; R, Rennes; S, Strasbourg; T, Toulouse. The theses of Bagh, Billard, Bonniard, Geddes and Perret have been added to the list found in Couvrir le monde (​adpf-publi/​folio/​couvrirlemonde/​index.html) and the correct title of the thèse principale by Nonn has been given.

1893, Rainaud, Armand, Le continent austral; hypothèses et découvertes, 492 p. (Dubois, P)[1863-1935]

1893, Schirmer, Henri, Le Sahara, 444 p. (Dubois, P)[1863-1931]

1894, Bernard, Augustin, L'archipel de la Nouvelle Calédonie,, 460 p. (Vidal, P)[1865-1947]

1897, Meuriot, Paul, Des agglomérations urbaines dans l’Europe contemporaine, 476 p. (Dubois, P)[1861-1919](1898)

1902, De Martonne, Emmanuel, La Valachie, essai de monographie géographique, 390 p. (Vidal, P)[1873-1955]

1902, Brunhes, Jean, L’Irrigation, ses conditions géographiques, 580 p. (Vidal, P)[1869-1930]

1902, Gautier, Émile-Félix, Madagascar, essai de géographie physique, 434 p. (Vidal, P)[1864-1940]

1905, Machat, Jules, Les rivières du Sud et le Fouta-Diallon, Guinée française, 326 p. (Dubois?, P) [?]

1907, Métin, Albert, La Colombie britannique, étude de colonisation au Canada, 430 p. (Dubois, P)[1871-1918](1908)

1908, Marc, Lucien, Le Pays Mossi, 190 p. (Vidal, P)[1877-1914](1909)

1912, Monchicourt, Charles, La région du Haut-Tell en Tunisie, 488 p. (Vidal?, P)[1873-1937](1913)

1913, Perret, Robert, La Géographie de la Terre-Neuve, 376 p. (Dubois, P)[1881-1965]

1913, Pasquet, Désiré, Londres et les ouvriers de Londres, 764 p. (Vidal, P)[1870-1928]

1920, Denis, Pierre, La République argentine, la mise en valeur du pays, 302 p. (Demangeon?, P)[1883-1951]

1922, Bourcart, Jacques, Les confins albanais, 308 p. (Gentil, P)[1891-1965]

1927, Geddes, Arthur, Au Pays de Tagore, la civilisation rurale du Bengale occidental, 236 p. (Sion, M)[1895-1968]

1927, Legendre, Maurice, Las Jurdes, étude de géographie humaine, 512 p. (Camena d’Almeida, B)[1878-1955] Bordeaux

1928, Baumont, Maurice, La grosse industrie allemande et le charbon, 754 p. (Demangeon, P)[1892-1981]

1929, Goblet, Louis (Yann Morvran), La transformation de la géographie politique de l’Irlande au XVIIe siècle, 744 p. (Gallois > Demangeon, P)[1881-1955](1930)

1929, Robequain, Charles, Le Than-Hoa, 896 p. (Blanchard, G)[1897-1963]

1929, Lespès, René, Alger, étude de géographie et d’histoire urbaines, 860 p. (Bernard, P)[1871-1944](1930), ,

1930, Ancel, Jacques, La Macédoine, étude de colonisation contemporaine,, , 352 p. (Demangeon, P)[1882-1943]

1931, Lemaître, Georges, Le Weald, 416 p. (Demangeon, P)[1898-1972]

1932, Lozach, Jean, Le delta du Nil, 304 p. (Demangeon, P)[?] Cairo

1934, Clerget, Marcel, Le Caire, étude de géographie urbaine, 772 p. (Demangeon, P)[?] Cairo

1934, Bonniard, Pierre, Le Tell septentrional en Tunisie, 545 p. (Bernard, P)[?]

1934, Despois, Jean, Le Djebel Nefousa, Tripolitainie, 350 p. (Bernard, P)[1901-1978](1930)

1936, Deschamps, Hubert, Les Antaisaka, étude de géographie humaine, 220 p. (Demangeon, P)[1900-1979] Tananarive

1936, Agard, Adolphe, L’Union indochinoise ou Indochine orientale, 371p. (Sion, M)[?]

1936, Gourou, Pierre, Les paysans du delta tonkinois, 666 p. (Demangeon, P)[1900-1999]

1936, Morizon, René, La province cambodgienne de Pursat, 198 p. (Demangeon?, P)[1896-1968]

1936, Thoumin, Richard, Géographie humaine de la Syrie centrale, 360 p. (Blanchard, G)[1897-?] Tours

1940, Ruellan, Francis, Le Kwansaï, étude géomorphologique, 822 p. (De Martonne, P)[1894-1975] Tours

1940, Weulersse, Jacques, Le pays des Alaouites, 418 p. (Demangeon, P)[1905-1946] Tours

1941, Le Lannou, Maurice, Pâtres et paysans de la Sardaigne, 364 p. (Demangeon, P)[1906-1992] Tours

1941, Dresch, Jean, Recherches sur l’évolution du relief dans le massif du Grand Atlas, 710 p. (De Martonne, P)[1905-1994] Tours

1942, Urvoy, Yves, Les bassins du Niger, étude de géographie physique, 140 p. (De Martonne, P)[1900-1944]

1945, Tinthoin, Robert, Les aspects physiques de l’Oranais, 640 p. (De Martonne/ Capot-Rey, A)[1904-?] Oran

1947, Isnard, Hildebert, La vigne en Algérie, 820 p. (Capot Rey/ Cholley?, P)[1904-1983](1951 & 1954) Gap

1949, Revert, Eugène, La Martinique, 560 p. (Allix, L)[1895-1957]

1950, Monbeig, Pierre, Pionniers et planteurs de Sao Paulo, 376 p. (Demangeon > Cholley, P)[1908-1987](1952)

1950, Awad, Hassan, La montagne du Sinaï central, 248 p. (De Martonne, P)[1910-1996] Cairo

1951, Pouquet, Jean, Les monts du Tessala, 352 p. (Cholley, P)[1910-1997](1952)

1951, Moussly, Nazim, Le problème de l’eau en Syrie, 295 p. (Dresch, P)[?] Lyon

1952, De Vaumas, Étienne, Le Liban, montagne libanaise, 366 p. (De Martonne > Cholley, P)[1914-?]

1953, Yacono, Xavier, La colonisation des plaines du Chelif, 868 p. (Capot-Rey> Dresch?, P)[1912-1990](1955) Algiers

1955, Blanc, André, La Croatie occidentale, 500 p. (Cholley, P)[1922-1977](1955)

1955, Corbel, Jean, Les karsts du nord-ouest de l’Europe, 544 p. (Allix, L)[1920-1970](1957) Lyon

1956, De Planhol, Xavier, De la plaine pamphylienne aux lacs pisidiens. Nomadisme et vie paysanne, 498 p. (Cholley, P)[1926 >](1958)

1957, Roche, Jean, La colonisation allemande et le Rio Grande do Sul, 720 p. (Robequain?, P)[1917-2006]

1957, Flatrès, Pierre, Géographie agraire de quatre contrées celtiques, 618 p. (Meynier, R)[1921-1998] Rennes

1957, Rougerie, Gabriel, Le façonnement actuel des modèles en Côte-d’Ivoire forestière, 542 p. (Dresch, P)[1918-2008](1960) Dakar

1958, Defos du Rau, Jean, L’île de la Réunion, 720 p. (Papy, B)[1914-?](1960) Bordeaux

1958, Bagh, Adib, La région de Djolan, 660 p. (Dresch, P)[?](1961)

1958, Poncet, Jean, La colonisation et l’agriculture européennes en Tunisie, 702 p. (Dresch, P)[1912-1980](1961)

1959, Dupuis, Jacques, Madras et la côte de Coromandel, 590 p. (Robequain, P)[1912-1997](1960)

1959, Delvert, Jean, Le paysan cambodgien, 740 p. (Robequain, P)[1921-2005](1961)

1959, Hamidé, Habdul, La région d’Alep, 594 p. (Dresch, P)[?]

1959, Raynal, René, Plaines et piedmonts du bassin de la Moulaya (Maroc oriental), 618 p. (Dresch, P)[1914-2002](1961) Rabat

1960, Pelletier, Jean, Le relief de la Sardaigne, 484 p. (Le Lannou, L)[1926->] Lyon

1960, Joly, Fernand, Études sur le relief du Sud-Est marocain, 578 p. (Dresch, P)[1917-2010] Rabat

1961, Moral, Paul, Le paysan haïtien, 376 p. (Robequain, P)[1920-2003]

1961, Gabert, Pierre, Les plaines occidentales du Pô, 532 p. (Birot, P)[1927-?] Gap

1961, Rochefort, Renée, Travail et travailleurs en Sicile, 364 p. (Le Lannou, L)[1924->],

1961, Billard, Pierre, La Circulation dans le Sud-Cameroun, 430 p. (Veyret, G)[?-?] Lyon

1962, Lasserre, Guy, La Guadeloupe, 1,132 p. (Papy, B)[1920-2001] Bordeaux

1962, Malaurie, Jean, Thèmes de recherche géomorphologique dans le nord-ouest du Groenland, 496 p. (Cholley, P)[1922-> ](1968)

1962, Coque, Roger, La Tunisie pré-saharienne, 476 p. (Dresch, P)[1923-1994]

1963, Picard, Alice, Les vallées septentrionales du massif de l’Oetztal, 478 p. (Chabot, P)[1925-2003]

1963, Demangeot, Jean, Géomorphologie des Abruzzes adriatiques, 420 p. (De Martonne > Birot, P)[1916-2009](1965), , , , ,

1963, Nicolaï, Henri, Le Kwilu, 472 p. (Papy, B)[1929->] Brussels

1964, Biays, Pierre, Les marges de l’œkoumène dans l’Est du Canada, 762 p. (Meynier, R)[1921-?] Québec

1964, Battistini, René, Étude géomorphologique de l’extrême sud de Madagascar, 636 p. (Guilcher, P)[1928-?]

1964, Loup, Jean, Pasteurs et agriculteurs valaisans, 680 p. (Veyret, G)[1921->] Grenoble

1964, Godard, Alain, Recherches de géomorphologie en Écosse du nord-ouest, 702 p. (Guilcher, P)[1929->](1965)

1964, Le Coz, Jean, Le Rharb, fellahs et colons, 1,070 p. (Dresch, P)[1920-1991] Rabat

1964, Cabot, Jean, Le bassin du moyen Logone, 328 p. (Robequain > Monbeig)[1923-1999](1965)

1965, Barbaza, Yvette, Le paysage humain de la Costa Brava, 746 p. (Chabot, P)[1914-2009](1966)

1966, Borde, Jean, Les Andes de Santiago, 562 p. (Papy, B)[1921-1977] Bordeaux

1966, Dollfus, Olivier, Les Andes centrales du Pérou, 404 p. (Dresch, P)[1931-2005] Lima

1966, Doumenge, François, L’homme et le Pacifique Sud, 636 p. (Galtier, M)[1926-2008]

1966, Huetz de Lemps, Alain, Vignobles et vins du Nord-Ouest de l’Espagne, 1,006 p. (Chabot, P)[1926->](1967) Bordeaux

1966, Nonn, Henri, Les régions côtières de la Galice, 592 p. (Guilcher, P)[1929->]

1966, Adicéam, Emmanuel, La géographie de l’irrigation dans le Tamilnad, 524 p. (Robequain > Despois)[? -1985] Pondichéry

1966, Pélissier, Paul, Les paysans du Sénégal, 940 p. (Papy, B)[1921-2010] Saint-Yrieux

1966, Sautter, Guy, De l’Atlantique au fleuve Congo, une géographie du sous-peuplement, 1102 p. (Robequain > Monbeig?, P)[1920-1998]

1967, Pagney, Pierre, Le climat des Antilles, 378 p. (Pedelaborde?, P)[1919 -]

1967, Rognon, Pierre, Le massif de l’Atakor, 560 p. (Capot-Rey>Birot, P)[1931-2010]

1968, Castéla, Paul, La fleur en Europe occidentale, 508 p. (Juillard, S)[1933->] Strasbourg

1968, Hazera, Jean, La région de Bilbao, étude géomorphologique, 358 p. (?, B)[1909-1986] San Sebastian

1968, Janin, Bernard, Une région originale, le Val d’Aoste, 588 p. (Veyret, G)[1932->] Grenoble

1968, Maurer, Gérard, Les montagnes du Rif central, 500 p. (Dresch, P)[1924-1998] Rabat

1968, Brasseur, Gérard, Les établissements humains au Mali, 550 p. (Robequain > Monbeig, P)[1923-1998]

1968, Gallais, Jean, Le delta intérieur du Niger, 622 p. (Robequain > Monbeig, P)[1926-1998] Dakar

1968, Vennetier, Pierre, Pointe-Noire et la façade maritime du Moyen Congo-Brazzaville, 460 p. (Papy > Lasserre, B)[1928- ](1969)

1969, Collin-Delavaud, Claude, Le Piémont côtier du Pérou septentrional, 600 p. (Dresch, P)[1929 -] Bordeaux

1969, Paskoff, Roland, Recherches géomorphologiques dans le Chile semi-aride, 420 p. (Enjalbert, B)[1933-2005]

1969, Desplanques, Henri, Les campagnes ombriennes, 574 p. (Birot, P)[1911-1983]

1969, Sermet, Jean, L’Andalousie, ms. (Faucher> Taillefer >, T)[1907-2003]

1969, Beaudet, Gaston, Le plateau central marocain, 480 p. (Dresch, P)[1934-1994]

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1 It should be noted that Swedish geographers also wrote regional (or local) monographs as part of doctoral requirements during much of the 20th century (Helmfrid, 1972, p. 66-67; Hägerstrand, 1982, p.124; Sporrong, 1994, p. 287).

2 Even now, it is unusual for doctoral theses by British geographers to be published in monograph form, with articles in learned journals being the preferred mode of scholarly communication. Doctoral examinations in the United Kingdom are held in private, with the candidate and typically two or three examiners. Conventions vary from university to university; the supervisor is sometimes permitted to observe proceedings.

3 My choice of Les paysans de la Normandie orientale (1909) by Jules Sion was instrumental in shaping my initial research in France.

4 Prior to 1959, a minor or secondary thesis was also required, but these minor works are excluded from the present discussion.

5 Bourgeat argued that not all time-consuming doctoral theses were barriers to scholarly innovation and that a number (especially toward the end of his study period) enabled new ideas to be advanced as well as substantial quantities of new information to be amassed. He paid particular attention to the appearance of the concept of ‘underdevelopment’ in state doctorates by geographers to support this hypothesis (Bourgeat, 2008, 2009).

6 To save space, only those comptes rendus that are quoted or otherwise used in this paper are listed in the References.

7 Official reports (rapports de soutenance de thèse) represent a further element in the scholarly discourse surrounding each candidate’s doctoral work and demonstrable academic merit (Dardy, Ducard & Maingueneau, 2002). Scrutiny of archival records containing such reports is beyond the scope of this article.

8 All the patrons considered here were men.

9 Responses to the social revolution in French universities following the events of 1968 led to many changes in higher education, including the abolition of the burdensome state doctorate in 1984, the introduction of the doctorat nouveau régime, and the habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR). However, some candidates took many years to complete their state doctorates and these were still being awarded in the final years of the 20th century.

10 This title has been considered among regional monographs dealing with parts of France (Clout, 2009).

11 The doctoral thesis by André Siegfried (1875-1959) on La démocratie en Nouvelle-Zélande (1904) was prepared under Dubois and drew on information gained during its author’s first world tour, however this work was more a piece of social or political science than an expression of geography and has been excluded from the present discussion (Sanguin, 2010, p. 39). Nonetheless, Siegfried went on to teach his own unique brand of economic and political geography at the École libre des sciences politiques (1910-55) and the Collège de France (1933-46) but never held a post in a French state university.

12 In 1907, De Martonne defended a second doctorate in science which examined the geomorphology of the Carpathians (De Martonne, 1907).

13 Issue 11 of Hérodote (1978) appeared shortly after Dresch’s retirement and bears the title “Géographie/ anticolonialisme. Jean Dresch”. A dozen authors, mainly geographers but also scholars in other social sciences, explored his influence in shaping research in the Maghreb and in ‘black’ Africa, and testified to his unflagging commitment to movements for political independence in several ‘ex-colonial’ territories, especially Algeria, and his sustained opposition to perceived injustice.

14 The young René Raynal had a particularly eventful war, being caught up in the American landing in North Africa in November 1942, then volunteering for the Tunisia campaign, before being taken prisoner of war and repatriated through Italy, Germany and Alsace (Joly, 2002, p. 289). After being demobilized, he crossed the Pyrenees in August 1943 and was imprisoned for a while by the Guardia Civil. At the end of the year, he escaped to Morocco and was later involved in harsh fighting in Italy before landing in Provence in August 1944 and moving on to help liberate the southern Alps, Franche-Comté and Alsace. At the end of the war, Raynal was serving with the French occupation forces in Germany and Austria. Jean Borde and Jean Delvert also left occupied France for Spain in June 1943 and were both interned for six months before escaping to Casblanca where they enrolled with the Free French (Lasserre, 1977, p. 325; Anon., 2006). They, too, landed in Provence and participated in the Liberation of eastern France. By contrast, Jean Pouquet was held in prisoner-of-war camps from 1940 to 1945, despite two escape attempts. Jean Dresch, Jean Gallais, Jean Loup and doubtless others were involved with Resistance activity, as was Pierre Gourou who was Vice-Président of the Comité de Libération in the Gironde département in 1944 (Nicolaï, Pélissier & Raison, 2000, p. 4).

15 Dresch contributed the section on the Middle East in the two-volume textbook, La Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient (1953-56, Presses Universitaires de France), written with Pierre Birot.

16 Pierre Birot served as patron to an important cluster of scholars who researched aspects of the physical geography of Iberia, Italy, Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean world, completing their theses after the terminal date of the present discussion (Dufaure, 1984).

17 This network of support is viewed with a certain degree of envy by many geographers of other nationalities (and perhaps especially the British) who are undertaking field research beyond their home countries.

18 Gourou’s thesis was reissued in 1965 by the Mouton publishing house in The Hague, as was Dresch’s thesis in 1984 by Paradigme in Caen; I suspect that few other non-metropolitan monographs have been reprinted.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Regions studied in the first one hundred non-metropolitan monographs
Fichier image/png, 372k
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Référence électronique

Hugh Clout, « Professorial patronage and the formation of French geographical knowledge. A bio-bibliographical exploration of one hundred non-metropolitan regional monographs, 1893-1969 », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Epistémologie, Histoire de la Géographie, Didactique, document 549, mis en ligne le 17 octobre 2011, consulté le 28 mars 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/cybergeo.24203

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Hugh Clout

Professor Emeritus of Geography, University College London,

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