BAUDOUIN, A. "Reclus, A Colonialist?"
Article published on 2 December 2007
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Cybergeo, No. 239, 26 mai 2003

"The geographer and anarchist, Elisée Reclus is considered as one of the foremost anticolonialists of his time. Nevertheless when analyzing his writings, several authors could not avoid the fact and contradiction that, even when being critical to how colonization was implemented, Reclus was nevertheless an advocate of colonization. This paper is an attempt to review the issue by using archive materials and publications and by replacing Elisée Reclus’s positions in the second half of the 19th century, together with other critics of the colonial events emanating from various political sides. It is documented that despite his criticism and his humanism, Reclus was, all his life, a dedicated partisan of colonization, even if it was for a "democratic" and somewhat idealistic version of it. The positions of Reclus appear to be logical when related to the common belief in the western civilization, shared by radical leftists like socialists and anarchists, that the "civilized world" had a mission to fulfill in the rest of the world. The colonial issue is only to be seen as a major component of the on-going globalization at work over centuries."

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