Here is a list of fifteen most popular geographers of France, who made significant contributions to the philosophical foundation of political and historical geography in France.
Geographer # 1. Jean Brunhes:
Jean Brunhes was one of the outstanding pupils of Vidal de la Blache (Founder of Geography). He not only elaborated Blache’s ideas about regional and human geography and spread them throughout France, but also transmitted the Vidalian tradition to other countries.
He was an outstanding scholar of France and a maker of modern geography. Brunhes is best known for his presentation of the essential facts of geography, from which one can readily quote statements which specifically limit the field.
He sought to give the geography of man a clear disciplinary basis. It can be said of Brunhes that he tried to blend together the Vidalian tradition of ‘genre de vie’ and the Schluterian heritage of ‘Kulturlandschaft’, in an attempt to give geography a more dynamic and professional outlook.
He studied at the Ecole Nonnale Superieure in Paris, like so many of the contemporary French geographers, with the intention of becoming a teacher in the discipline. He worked under Vidal and took the ‘agrege’ in history and geography in 1892, and continued his studies in Paris until 1896.
Brunhes, by his training in history, the natural sciences, law and finance with his final specialisation in human geography, was particularly well equipped to assess rightly the varying parts that physical factors on the one hand, and social, economic, political and historical factors on the other hand, played on various human groups now and in the past.
The French geographers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were not unnecessarily motivated by the contemporary dichotomy between physical geography and human geography, as were their counterparts in Germany.
This may be attributed to Jean Brunhes who led in the development of human geography, and Emmanuel de Martonne who nourished the physical geography. Both carried forward the ‘la tradition Vidalienne’ not only to Franc, but also outside it. An important part of la tradition Vidalienne has been a relative freedom from the dispute about whether geography is one field or many.
Brunhes’s major work appeared in 1910 with the title Geographie Humaine – essai de classification positive. The book was the first large-scale attempt in France to examine fully the facts in human economy. The tradition he laid down in the book suggested an inevitable shift of emphasis from La Play’s heritage of ‘geographical conditions’ and ‘social groupings’ to the study of the surface features of the Earth. He elaborated a system of human geography with its raw material in the visible and tangible facts of human activity on the Earth’s surface.
These are the essential facts of human geography which he grouped into three categories:
1. Facts of unproductive occupation of the soil—houses and roads (including rural habitations, urban agglomerations, and circulation patterns).
2. Facts of plant and animal conquest—the cultivation of plants and the raising of animals.
3. Facts of destructive exploitation—plant and animal devastation, mineral exploitation.
These are examined in particular type of areas or regional studies to show the interdependence of these phenomena in contrasted physical and social environment. Brunhes admitted that the study of these three sets of observable phenomena does not set the limit to geography, a fact that is not generally appreciated.
Beyond the essential facts, but in association with them, is an area of wider study. This is described as ‘the geography of history’ that includes five major aspects: distribution of population; economic geography; geography of political groupings; social geography where these are associated with the ‘essential facts’; and ‘regional geography’, which is a synthesis of the foregoing.
Brunhes’ methodological considerations are perhaps more suggestive than definitive, but his detailed portrayal of concepts, in La geographie humaine, presents essentially a modification of the dualistic concept of Geography in which a large part of human geography is defined in terms of relationships.
Brunhes seemed to have a strong orientation towards the Schluterean tradition of landscape morphology. He illustrated this view when he said that we should study the Earth as if we were sitting in a balloon and looking down upon it.
We should analyse the landscape and the characteristic interplay of observable phenomena there. The visible landscape is a result both of natural conditions and forces and a manifestation of the work of man. The landscape itself creates a synthesis. There is no longer a gap between physical geography and the geography of man, both have the same object—the visible landscape—and there is also close contact in terms of method.
Brunhes was of the opinion that the physical and cultural phenomena are in a state of perpetual change and they must be studied in the temporal change, instead of taking them as static in the time scale. Therefore, in order to understand the interrelationship between physical and cultural components of small regions (landschaft or pays), the principle of activity is to be kept in mind within the framework of landscape morphology, which would help to arrive at a just synthesis.
He further pointed out that our efforts are based fundamentally on the great geographical principle of interaction between man and environment like plants and animals, and therefore, the concept of interaction should dominate every complete study of geographical facts. The forces of physical nature are bound together in their consequences, in relations and in the consequences of these relations.
In collaboration with C. Vallaux, Brunhes wrote a book in 1912. In 1928, he translated I. Bowman’s work on political geography. The translation of Bowman’s work into French and Brunhes’ work on human geography into English is one more example of the close rapport, both professional and personal, between the leaders of American and French geography in this period. He had a personal contact with the German scholar Otto Schluter also who had a direct impact on his geographical writings.
Geographer # 2. Camille Vallaux:
The effect of the Vidalian tradition is also apparent in the writings of Camille Vallaux. It was for this heritage that there was no problem of dichotomy in the French School of geography even after 1920. Vallaux’s book, Les sciences geographiques (1925), clarifies his understanding of the la tradition Vidalienne with regard to the dichotomy, that geography is both a unitary and autonomous field of study and also an auxiliary aspect of many fields.
Not only does geography have a philosophy of its own, he writes, but also, ‘it is almost, in itself a philosophy of the world of man’. Vallaux’s book thus presents the most thorough methodological study in French geography, probably the ablest presentation of the concept of human geography as the study of interrelations.
It was, therefore, assumed that the French geographers could continue to make important contribution to systematic or topical studies and at the same time continue to produce regional monographs. As regards the frequent usage of the term ‘paysage’, Vallaux has commented on the confusion because of the double meaning of the term that results in its undefined use in the writings of Brunhes and others.
As Sauer puts it, Vallaux stated – ‘to describe human landscape without knowing how these landscapes are constructed is to put the cart before the horse. The first solid basis to establish is, therefore, the physical geography which supplies it. These are to be reconstituted therefore in the natural landscape, in which the activity of the living world is comprised, such as nature made them, as though there had not been a living person on the Earth’.
Undoubtedly the method which Vallaux and Sauer recommend, and which many geographers have followed, is in accordance with the logic of nature (in the broadest sense of the universe), assuming that we can impute a logic to the universe.
On the contemporary controversy of whether or not the concept of region be included into the scientific geography, Vallaux concluded:
‘We are not even sure that for many parts of the world, the regional synthesis is anything more than a logical artifice and a method of instruction, that is to say, after all, an actual deformation of truth, excused but not legitimized by the arguments which one could put with validity in its favour’ (1925).
Geographer # 3. Franz Schrader:
He was a contemporary of Vidal de la Blache. He was not his pupil. He was not an official, engineer or academician, but he was known for his cartographic skill. He had been a successful field observer, surveyor, artist and draughtsman.
He prepared new maps of the Pyrennes, notably of the central section. With the aid of the collaborator, Schrader prepared three Atlases, the last of which was a masterpiece in cartography and was also recognised by Vidal de la Blache.
He had also prepared the Annee Cartographique, and the first fascicule appeared in 1891 and the last one in 1931. His major work, entitled The Foundation of Geography in the Twentieth Century was published in 1919, in which he defined geography as the study of ‘the areal interdependence of terrestrial phenomena’.
Geographer # 4. Emmanuel De Martonne:
He was the first French geographer to concentrate on physical geography. He was the recognised leader of French geography from 1918 to 1945. Martonne entered the Ecole Normale Superieure in 1892 to study geography under Vidal Blache. He was trained in the Vidalian tradition and carried forward the heritage of geography founded by Vidal to different parts of France.
When he succeeded Gallois as the Director of the Institute de Geographic at the Sorbonne, he was able to secure the maximum possible recognition for his specialisation. Besides his outstanding works on physical geography, he was actively engaged in various International Geographical Congresses and International Geographical Union of which he was secretary and then became its president.
De Martonne’s first published work dealt with the coastal morphology of Brittany and then he concentrated on the studies of physical geography in the Carpathians. His regional monograph on Wallachia (1902) manifested the explicit influence of the Vidalian tradition. His monumental work was the publication of Traite de Geographie Physique in 1909 which was extended to three volumes in 1925-27.
This classic work was rearranged in shorter edition. This work showed an inevitable orientation towards the Davisian idea. He was an ardent supporter of the American geographer W. M. Davis, and carried forward his ideas to the French-speaking world. In 1943, he edited the magnificent Atlas de France which, in nearly 90 sheets and some 200 superbly coloured maps, covered every conceivable aspect of France capable of cartographic representation.
To him, physical geography was an essential part of the whole geographical study of an area. He attempted to demonstrate this fact in his regional monograph of the Wallachian plain and also in his studies of the Carpathians. During his entire professional carrier, he maintained a regional interest in Central Europe, and a systematic interest in geomorphology and climatology. His attempt to identify regions by using an aridity index was a major contribution to the systematic study of climate. Martonne was one of the leading physical geographers of the world and became the most influential geographer in Europe between the two World Wars.
It was indeed a major achievement of the la tradition Vidalienne that it successfully withheld the influence of apparent dichotomies in geography on the French School as had already worried the German School of geography. It was largely due to Brunhes and Martonne, the two forerunners of the Vidalian tradition that human geography and physical geography developed separately and distinctively.
Martonne, being a physical geographer, sought to combine the physical and human aspects in one framework which is evident in the two volumes on Central Europe in the Geographie Universelle (1930 and 1931). He also attempted to blend together regional geography and systematic geography so as to give geography a united and unitary outlook.
Geographer # 5. Albert Demangeon:
He was one of the forerunners of ‘La tradition Vidalienne’. He studied under Vidal Blache. He was a contemporary, student, friend and colleague of de Martonne. He started his career as a school teacher in Picardy. He was appointed to the University of Lille, and there he remained till 1911 when he was appointed to the chair of geography, alongside de Martonne, at the Sorbonne in Paris. He remained there until his death in 1940. Demangeon made outstanding contribution to human geography, and produced a manual of human geography.
His monograph on La Picardie (1905) reflected the conceptual framework of the Vidalian tradition. Demangeon moved across every lane in Picardy before publishing the monograph. In its preparation, he also sought help from the archives in the national library in Paris and also other written sources. The skill with which he analysed the data collected from personal observations and the archives, and prepared the monograph, seemed to have approached the inductive method very closely.
Demangeon, in appreciation of Vidal Blache, wrote:
‘Every region (sic) has its unique character to which contribute the features of the soil, atmosphere, plants and man. The aim of all (geographical) research consists in the analysis of these features. The aim of description is to synthesise these and to show the interlocking of all the phenomena which comprise regional type’.
While at Lille, he published two important articles in the Annales, one of them related to the human use of the ‘montague’, and the other related to the relief and its development through a chequered series of cycles of erosion, rather than one uninterrupted process as postulated by W. M. Davis.
Though he contributed a number of research articles to the Annales, but his two articles published in 1920 and 1927 justify his stand of a minor shift from the contemporary methodological approach in human geography. The first article provided a study of the regional variations of the farmstead, and the other dealt with the distribution of the varied forms of nucleated settlements in rural areas over the Earth.
Another book published in 1920 was a major contribution to colonial geography. It dealt with the territorial losses of France and the potentialities of recuperation thereafter. In 1923, be published another book on Britain, which dealt with the spatial pattern of its overseas colonial possessions.
Demangeon’s classic works on British Isles and also on the Low countries appeared in the Geographic Universelles, in the mid-1920s. These two works further enhanced his academic position among the contemporary professional geographers in Europe.
His philosophy of human geography is contained in his posthumous work Problems de Geographic Humaine published in 1942. Demangeon’s study of the economic geography of France was fully published in 1946—48 in the Geographic Universelle.
He pioneered the study of rural settlements in France, and a number of articles on this subject appeared in the Annales between 1920 and 1939. He took the interior plan and agricultural function of houses as the basic differentiating factor.
On the question of settlement, he regarded the degree of concentration or dispersion as the vital matter. In the later 1930s, he prepared questionnaires concerning rural habitat, agrarian structure and methods, and the part of foreigners in French farming. He revised his classification of farmsteads and produced remarkable areas of their distribution.
The Problems de Geographie Humaine of Demangeon reveals the nature of his conceptual framework of ‘human geography’. Human geography, to him, is the study of human groups and societies in their relationships to the physical environment or geographical milieu.
He emphasised the work of man in modifying his environment by means of communications, artesian wells, the control of rivers, and the evolution of new plants for human food (reminiscent of the Vidalian tradition of genre de vie).
The study has four main aspects:
(i) the influence of the geographical milieu on modes of life;
(ii) the changes in the genres de vie under the impact of the human milieu;
(iii) the distribution of human groups as the result of the natural milieu, and the degree of civilisation;
(iv) the establishments in the landscape, due to the impact of the human groups on the land.
In these aspects, Demangeon invoked three guiding principles. ‘The first is the Vidalian idea of ‘possibilities’ of human occupance of land than determinants of human occupance by the geographical milieu; the second, never to lose sight of the terrestrial substratum (land), and build up always inductively from a regional base; and the third, to recognise always the fundamental importance of historical perspective so as to explain the present modes of human occupance of the Earth’.
Geographer # 6. Raoul Blanchard:
He is often credited with having established the Ecole de Grenoble, which was in many respects, independent of Vidal’s Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. He was in fullest sense a maker of modern geography. Although he was one of the pupils and followers of Vidal, he always had a sense of academic distinctiveness. He was appointed to the chair of geography at Grenoble and spent almost 50 years there. At Grenoble itself, Blanchard founded the Institute de Geographie Alpine in 1908 and started a periodical.
His regional monograph on Flanders, which was published in the early years of 1906, revealed the impact of the Vidalian tradition in its approach. His first paper on rainfall in northern France was published in the Annales de geographie in 1902. Blanchard followed the empirical method in his geographical studies which could be known from his great work on the French Alps which he started in 1937 at the age of 60.
The work continued until the publication of the final and the twelfth volume in 1956. It was a monumental work in the field of geomorphology and seemed to be independent of the Davisian tradition which had already made inroads into the contemporary French School of physical geography.
Blanchard opposed the cycle of de Martonne in its relevance to the Alps by pointing out the rule of structural and lithological condition and glacial actions. This seemed to have developed into a permanent ‘de Martonne-Blanchard controversy’ in the French School of physical geography.
Blanchard made substantial contributions to urban geography. He organised a regular school of urban geographers at Grenoble. To the study of urban geography, he made his classic contribution on Grenoble in 1910. The work, since then, has passed through a number of revisions, and it also witnessed incorporation of newer conceptual frameworks which he brought from the United States. He produced two volumes on the geography of eastern Canada containing long geographies of the cities of Quebec and Montreal.
Blanchard published urban studies of Lille, Nancy, Lyous, Marseilles, Nice and Bordeaux. He was also interested in rural house types in the Alps, and published a monograph on it.
The purpose of his urban geography was to provide description of the environment of man and its activities on the transformation of the landscape. His method was based on personal observations and recordings, interviews and enquiries, and at the same time, he also used the materials of the historian and archivist, and official records. Thus, his works seemed to have approached the inductive method very closely.
Geographer # 7. Maximilien Sore:
He began his career as a school teacher, but he joined the military service in 1914 and was seriously wounded and demobilised in 1915. He worked with Henry Baulig and Lucian Febvre at Strasbourg. He was appointed rector of the University of Clermont Ferrand and then at Aix Marseilles in 1934.
He succeeded Albert Demangeon to the chair of geography in Paris and there he remained until his retirement. He was fully conversant with the concept of the genre de vie, as developed by Vidal de la Blache, but he had a deep sense of orientation towards a biological (ecological) approach, and that makes his human geography distinct from that of Albert Demangeon.
His monumental work ‘Les Fondements de la Geographie Humaine’ was published in four volumes during 1947—1952. It was a classic work on human geography. His last work was published in 1961, containing new ideas, but it was essentially a resumption of the larger work.
The approach throughout is ecological and provides a basic conceptual framework for the geographer. Sore became the leader of a valuable new tendency in French geography which sought closer contacts with the biological sciences.
Sore considered physical geography as a framework for the study of human groups. He was especially concerned with the physical milieu only in its relevance to human occupance. The first volume of Sore’s de la Geographic Humaine dealt with the biological foundations of man s use of, and life on, the Earth.
The second volume was concerned with the technical foundation of human occupance of the Earth and the development of communication that embraces the techniques of social life. The third volume dealt with the technical foundations of production and the transformation of raw materials; and the fourth volume discussed the ‘human habitat’. In fact, the work seemed to be a reflection of the Vidalian tradition on the one hand, and the ecological approach on the other.
Geographer # 8. Henri Baulig:
Although he was a student and a follower of Vidal de la Blache, but he was trained in the Davisiari tradition. He went to Harvard (USA) and there came under the strong influence of Davis. He carried forward the Davisian School of physical geography into France. He was appointed to the chair of the University of Strasbourg, where he remained until his retirement in 1947. He shares with de Martonne the distinction of being a leader of geomorphological research.
His work on the morphology of the Central Massif, particularly its several erosion and peneplane surfaces, seemed to be a reminiscent of the Davisian heritage. He had a remarkable gift for observing and interpreting physical landforms and his work on the role of eustatic equilibrium in the formation of the Central Massif was one of rare distinction.
In 1950, all his published works were assembled in one volume as Essais de Morphologie and several years later he published two long articles which were a critique of the specialised methods and claims and trends of the new geomorphology in France as expounded in the work of P. Bivot. Baulig’s work on North America was perhaps the finest work on general regional geography of North America in any language. For this magnificent work, he was awarded the Daly award by the American Geographical Society.
Geographer # 9. Jacques Ancel:
He was one of the forerunners of the French School of political geography. Before his tragic death in the Draney concentration camp, he had completed three volumes of the Manuel Geographique de Politique Europeenne. He wrote several other books.
Ancel was a staunch opponent of German geopolitics as developed by Karl Haushofer. He had attempted to rescue the term geopolitics (geopolitique) for international science. He denied that language could be a sure guide to true national feelings.
Geographer # 10. Andre Siegfried:
He is credited with the development of electoral geography in France. For long, he held a Research Chair in Political and Economic Geography at the College de France where he undertook work on the geographical factors in French political parties and elections.
In his electoral studies, he attempted to measure the influence of the physical milieu on the electoral pattern. In fact, he incorporated the ‘deterministic tradition’ rather than the ‘possibilist tradition’ into his electoral analyses.
Siegfried’s political geography revealed the impact of the tradition of Tocqueville in his first book published in 1904. His important work in political geography was his study of political attitudes in Western Europe which was published in 1913. His books on England, the United States, Canada, Latin America, New Zealand, the Suez and Panama Canals and the Mediterranean have been widely acclaimed by the geographers and general readers in France and outside.
Though Siegfried had never produced any general theoretical system, either in politics or in human geography, yet in many ways he founded a school of thought, though not formally recognised. He was the sole geographer to have the distinction of becoming a member of the Academic Francaise in 1945.
Geographer # 11. Pierre Deffontaines:
He was the pupil of the pupils of Paul Vidal de la Blache. His first teachers were de Martonne and Lucien Gallois, but later he came under the influence of Jean Brunhes. He obtained his doctorate from the Sorbonne. His thesis published in 1932 appeared to be a departure from the traditional regional study.
There was an increasing tendency in the contemporary regional studies in France to concentrate on single central themes or single problems, and irrelevant materials were to be omitted. Deffontaine s study was thus organised in this way around the changing impact of human society on the landscape.
Deffontaines carried forward the tradition of Jean Brunhes. He actively helped Brunhes in the publication of the second volume on the human geography of France in 1928. He edited books on ‘Geographie Humaine’ of which he had written volumes on colonisation, man and the forest, the geography of religion, and man and the winter (in Canada).
He also directed a Geographie Universelle Larousse in three large volumes (1959—60). He founded a new periodical ‘Geographie Humaine et Ethnologie’ in 1948, to further the research in human geography and ethnology. He was definitely a maker of modern human geography in France in the post-War period.
On human geography, Deffontaines pointed out that it is a young subject and it is still in the exploratory stage. It proceeds by the sampling method. One aspect of the study is the struggle of man against his raw environment and the other aspect deal with the results achieved and classifies the types and limits.
Brunhes’s study of irrigation belongs to the first aspect, and Demangeons work to the second. He differentiated two types of regions of human occupancy: one in which there is an individual pattern of human economy and the other where through intensive and long contact, present- day life is the result of many complicated influences.
Geographer # 12. Roger Dion:
He was a contemporary of Pierre Deffontaines, and was trained according to the Vidalian tradition by the immediate pupils of Vidal Blache. He was appointed to the post of professor at the University of Lille in 1934, but from 1945 to 1948, Dion was professor of political and economic geography at the Sorbonne. In 1947, he served one session as professor at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 1948, he was appointed professor in the historical geography of France at the College de France.
The publication of his thesis La Val de Loire brought academic credit to him. The monograph revealed a change of approach from Vidal’s initial framework. The monograph was divided into three units. The first unit dealt with the natural characteristics of the Val de Loire. The second unit dealt with the history of man’s transformation of the river plain and his struggle with the vagaries of the flow of the river. The third unit dealt with the ‘genre de vie’ of the Val.
Another work on the formation of the rural landscapes of France (1934), showed his ability and skill in the interpretation of documentary records. The essay on the formation of the rural landscape of France was entirely based on the case studies on documentary records available from different places.
He attempted to trace out the differential development of agrarian systems in northern and southern France, and their role in accounting for difference in the emergence and present forms of field patterns, road nets, and the grouping of farmsteads and villages.
He also published a historical geography of viticulture in France (1959), and another work on the history of levees on the Loire in 1961. Dion’s works reflect the continuity of the historical tradition in geographic scholarship in contemporary France.
Dion, writing on historical geography in the middle of the twentieth century, pointed out many errors of interpretation that resulted from attempting to demonstrate strict controls. Man’s economic life must be seen as in the process of transition and makes no sense at all unless it is viewed in historical perspective.
Geographer # 13. Andre Cholley:
He was a renowned physical geographer. Though he belonged to the second generation of geographers in France, but his late entry into the academic profession put him in the third generation. Martonne is believed to have been the greatest influence in moulding Cholley’s development.
He pointed out that Cholley carried regional geography a big step further by revealing ‘une morphologie rationnelle’ in his classic work on physical geography. Cholley was the director of the Institute de Geographie in Paris from 1944 until his retirement in 1956.
On Cholley’s morphological expertise, as applied in the Pre-alps, Dickinson points out – ‘Cholley sought to determine the phases of evolution revealed by the correlation between surfaces of evolution and plains formed during marine transgressions of the same epoch. From many studies in the Paris Basin, he discovered a series of peneplained surfaces resulting, at the end of Miocene, in the establishment of a “polygenic surface” that affects the whole ensemble of the Paris Basin.
Following on the tectonic movements of the Pliocene period, the existing surface forms are to be attributed not to such extensive structural and erosional surfaces, but to slopes (pentes)—valley slopes, structural talus slopes, that were imprinted by climatic oscillations of the quaternary period’.
Regarding the post-War trends in geography in France, he pointed out that quantitative methods have entered into geomorphology, phytogeography and more recently into the field of human geography. Problems required to be sharply defined in terms of content and method and practicability, as well as precision.
On account of increasing emphasis on the quantitative explanation of phenomena, it became difficult to pursue the geographical study of an area in all its aspects according to the definition Vidalienne.
Geographer # 14. Pierre George:
He was appointed to the chair of geography at the Sorbonne in 1948, and made substantial contribution to the field of modern French geography. His doctorate thesis was published in 1936 and another work in 1938.
George’s geographical approach appears to have been built upon the conceptual frameworks of Albert Demangeon and Maximilien Sore. His approach was ecological with a strong emphasis on the motifs of characterisation, action and organisation of communities as spatial complexes.
In his book on Sociologie et Geographie (1966), George regrets the habitual claim of the French geographers about the unity of geography which, he believes, does not exist. He points out that the skilled analysis of natural processes, pursued in the laboratory or the field, has no relation with geography as a human science. The central concern of geography is with the study of human societies, and this is the essence of the French approach to geography as formulated by Vidal de la Blache.
As a ‘human science’, its object is the study of the globe as a whole and of its segments, with respect to all that conditions and all that is relevant to the diverse human collectivities that make up the population of the globe. The task of geography, as a scientific study, involves what George calls ‘horizontal synthesis rather than ‘vertical analysis’. Its basic concern, therefore, is with the location and measurement of types of correlation of spatially arranged phenomena over the face of the Earth.
Geographer # 15. Jean Gottmann:
He is one of the world’s leading contemporary geographers who earned forward the geographic tradition of France to the United States. He was appointed to the chair of geography at the University of Oxford, England in 1967. He lectured in a number of US universities.
Initially he was specialising on human geography of France and the Mediterranean countries, but after the Second World War he concentrated on political geography. His contribution to the field of political geography inevitably surpassed that of J. Ancel and Andre Siegfried. He has given the professional status to the French School of political geography.
Gottmann’s first publication on the commercial relations of France appeared in 1942. A textbook on America in French was published in 1949 and another on the geography of Europe in English as published in New York in 1950. His book on political geography of States appeared in 1952.
He published an article on ‘French Geography in Wartime’ in the Geographical Review (1946). Gottmann edited a small collaborative work on regional planning for the International Geographical Union in 1952. His other publications include: Virginia at Mid-century (1955), Megalopolis (1961), Planning of Occupied Land (1966), and Metropolis on the Move (1966). He also published a short article on political geography in the book on ‘Geographie Generale’ in 1966.
The fundamental aspects of political geography, according to Gottnann, are functional structure (cohabitation); distribution (repartition); transport network (reseau des acces); circulation and group policy or system of beliefs (iconographie). To him, circulation and iconography have always been associated in the formation of public authority and in the political life of peoples.
In contrast to Hartshorne’s Functional Approach in Political Geography, Gottmann developed his own methodological conception (or it may be called ‘a paradigm’) in his article- ‘The Political Partitioning of Our World- An Attempt at Analysis’. On the basic assumption that the space is limited, Gottmann defines accessibility as the major variable in political partitioning, giving emphasis to the uniqueness of position.
Each political territory is under a distinctive iconography—a set of symbols in which people believe and with which they identify in contrast with those in neighbouring areas. While this iconography is the stable factor (Hartshorne opposed it), circulation —the movement factor—is constantly acting as a dynamic force to change existing iconography, and there is a corresponding change in the spatial pattern of political partitioning.
In another article, published earlier, ‘Geography and International Relations’, Gottmann examines the relationship between environment and the behaviour of states and its role in international relations. This methodological conception appears to fit closely with the chorological conceptual framework of Kantian philosophy.