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Vidal de la Blache, Paul (1845–1918)

  • By: Kevin Archer
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Paul Vidal de la Blache is an important figure in the history of geography. Born in the village of Pezenas in the south of France in 1845, educated at the Lycée Charlemagne and the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris, Vidal took the lead in establishing a French school of geography at the turn of the 20th century that became world renowned for its holistic study of landscape. Vidal held positions at the University of Nancy (1872–1877) and the École Normale Supérieure (1877–1898), and was chair of geography at the Université de Paris, Sorbonne, from 1898 until his retirement in 1909.

Throughout his career, Vidal sought to establish geography as an explanatory science instead of the descriptive, almanac-style fact-finding exercise that most geographers of his ...

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