Jean-Jacques-Élisée Reclus

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Reclus, Jean-Jacques-Élisée


Born Mar. 15, 1830, in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, Gironde, France; died July 4, 1905, in Turnhout, Belgium. French geographer, sociologist, and political figure. One of the theoreticians of anarchism.

Reclus was a member of the First International, in which he aligned himself with the Bakuninists. A supporter of the Republic, he emigrated from France after Louis Bonaparte’s coup d’etat and lived in Great Britain, the USA, and various countries in South America. At the time of the Paris Commune of 1871, Reclus fought in the national guard and was taken captive by the Versaillais. Sentenced to lifetime exile, he lived in Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium.

From 1892 to 1905, Reclus was a professor of geography in Brussels, first at the Free University and then at the New University, which was founded on his initiative. In his writings he affirmed the role of history in geographical studies. His major work The Earth and Its Inhabitants (1876–94) achieved world renown; in this work he presented a general picture of the development of humanity and described countries in a vivid and lively style. Reclus exaggerated the influence of the geographical milieu on the development of society but was not a consistent adherent of geographic determinism.


La Terre, description de phénomènes de la vie du globe, 5th ed., vols. 1–2. Paris, 1883.
In Russian translation:
Zemlia i liudi. Vseobshchaia istoriia, vols. 1–19. Moscow, 1898–1901.
Evoliutsiia, revoliutsiia i ideal anarkhizma. Moscow, 1917.
Chelovek i Zemlia, vols. 1–6. St. Petersburg, 1906–09.


Lebedeva, N. A., and N. K. Lebedev. E. Rekliu. Moscow, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.