Created in the spring of 2020, the Olivier Dollfus group brings together geographers who have been students – who have often become friends – or passionate readers of Olivier Dollfus. They all recognize themselves in this figure of geography who will have marked his discipline from the 1970s until his death in 2005, whether in his research work, or in his relationship with others and the world.
This blog is therefore not a tribute, but the place where, despite different interests, geographers who claim a common heritage share their ideas and make geography à la Dollfus. That is to say, an all-encompassing geography, which apprehends at the same time the Earth, the Globe and the World; a non-ideological geography, made of surprises and questioning; a geography that takes reality seriously, ready to go into the field while building powerful theories; and, finally, a geography in touch with current events, to finally be able to « read one’s newspaper better », as Olivier Dollfus liked to say maliciously.
Olivier Dollfus liked to tirelessly ask a simple question: why there and not elsewhere? We can say that it was through this questioning, through the question « where? » that he defined Geography in action.
This blog is therefore a space of freedom where the formalization of incipient hypotheses and the beginnings of theories, impressions of travels, field notebooks, tickets deciphering the news or interviews with researchers that inspire us.
The two founding members of the group are Patrick Poncet and Olivier Vilaça. Patrick Poncet has known Olivier Dollfus since his first year of study at the University of Paris VII in 1992. Olivier Vilaça met him in 1993 when he joined him at Jussieu to do his master’s thesis. Both of them were marked by what they perceive as Olivier Dollfus’ masterpiece: book 2 of the first volume of the Géographie Universelle (Belin), entitled Le Système Monde.
The other members are Blandine Ripert, René-Eric Dagorn, Boris Beaude and Marc Dumont. Blandine Ripert did her doctoral thesis under the supervision of Olivier Dollfus in the mid-1990s. She is the direct intellectual descendant of this mountain lover. René-Éric Dagorn met Olivier Dollfus in 2006 when he joined the « globalization » group at GEMDEV, a group launched by Olivier Dollfus and economist Michel Beaud. It was as a student at Paris VII in the 1990s that Boris Beaude met Olivier Dollfus, and subsequently had a rich and inspiring intellectual relationship with the latter. Marc Dumont got to know Olivier Dollfus through his books, and in particular through his audacious way of questioning the urban phenomenon via the concept of the World Metropolitan Archipelago.
The members of the group have already found themselves in a common venture since they are all co-authors of L’Invention du Monde, published in 2009 by Presses de Sciences-Po. Ten years later, here they are, once again under the benevolent aegis of Olivier Dollfus, a man of the World with a capital W.
Headband photo: aerial view of Paris by Sébastien Gadal.