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Relire la géographie de Conrad Malte-Brun

Abstract : In 1807 and 1810, Conrad Malte-Brun, a Danisch journalist and scientist emigrated in France in 1799, proposes two editorial entreprises : the new journal Annales des Voyages, de la Géographie et de l'Histoire, and the Précis de la géographie universelle. With these two publications, he entends to found a geographical science on solid and common basis. It is the first time, at least in french, that a project of creating a real geographical disciplin takes place : that wish represents a particular moment in the history of science and, moreover, in the history of geography. Through these entreprises Malte-Brun wants that geography will finally be recognised and valorised as an independant science among others, by fixing its scientifical identity. This identity is firstly based on a group of French and European scientists which are defined as geographers by Malte-Brun himself in his articles. They are meant to join together around common objects, methods and theoretical concepts. It is at least the aim pursued by Malte-Brun. But in reality, his epistemological project is not that clear. The analysis of both texts shows a few weaknesses in his proposals. For example : the importance of the litterary style of writing seems to win at the expense of the analysis ; the rejection of methodological innovations, such as the field work defended by Alexander von Humboldt and many others, represents the refusal of the essential plurality in the production of geographical knowledge ; and finally the wish of scientific independance, expressed in particular against history, is actually lost in a multiple cooperation with other scientific fields, as if Malte-Brun was indeed unable to assume the geography's autonomy. By analysing these texts, this article means to identify a important moment in the history of geography, that influenced for a long time a range of objects, lines and methods of our disciplin. Some of the questions raised by Malte-Brun, such as the opportunity of the field work or the litterarity of the geographical language, are still of interest today. By re-reading the geography proposed by Conrad Malte-Brun more than 200 years ago, this article entends to light up one of the first episode in the history of geography where its identity was questionned. Moreover it offers a chance to identify the durability of a range of interrogations in the french geography.
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Contributor : Laura Péaud <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 2:31:42 PM
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Laura Péaud. Relire la géographie de Conrad Malte-Brun. Annales de géographie, Armand Colin, 2015, pp.99-122. ⟨10.3917/ag.701.0099⟩. ⟨halshs-01376684⟩



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