Elisée Reclus and the city without limits – José Ardillo

Elisée Reclus and the city without limits – José Ardillo

A 2014 critical review of two essays on Elisée Reclus published in 2013, focusing on his somewhat ambivalent views on the city (e.g., he thought that the vast stockyards and slaughterhouse complexes of the Chicago meat industry of 1900 comprised a “model for the mechanization of meat production that should be extended to other cities and countries”), the problematic of how these views fit into his overall theoretical perspective (he was a world-famous libertarian geographer), and the extent to which they are still relevant for our time.

Elisée Reclus and the City without Limits – José Ardillo

Since the beginning of this century, interest in the life and work of Elisée Reclus has been steadily increasing. Texts devoted to him are being published constantly, his works are being reprinted, and numerous commentaries on his life and thought are being written.

For the purpose of delimiting the field of discussion, we shall refer to two texts that were published in 2013—first, the book by Philippe Pelletier, Géographie et Anarchisme. Reclus, Kropotkin et Metchnikoff; and secondly, the introductory article by J. L. Oyón, “Reclus: la fusión naturaleza-ciudad” [Reclus: the nature-city fusion], which was published in the bulletin of the Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular de Barcelona—and we would like to call attention to this engrossing question of the city and its development in the work of the great libertarian geographer.1

From the rigorous and well-documented study by Pelletier we shall focus above all on his chapter, “Elisée Reclus, les geographes anarchistes et la ville” [Elisée Reclus, anarchist geographers and the city]. We know that Pelletier, who is himself a geographer, has spent years delving into the Reclusian corpus and in this chapter of his book he very clearly explains the importance for Reclus of the analysis of the city in his entire life’s work. Oyón, meanwhile, in his article, observes that: “In the 19 volumes of the New Universal Geography published between 1876 and 1894, during his exile in Switzerland as a former Communard, he devoted approximately 2,000 pages to the various cities of the world, in which he generally praised the city as the ‘location par excellence of progress’ but also occasionally added, as in his discussion of London, a denunciation of the dreadful conditions of the unsanitary districts of the poor, far removed from nature and suffering from serious problems of excess mortality, which he contrasted with the neighborhoods of the rich, which were more healthy and were interspersed with green spaces.”

All the commentators who have addressed this question agree on one thing: the ambivalent position assumed by Reclus with regard to the modern city. Throughout his wide-ranging and voluminous works—Oyón also highlights this point—we behold the evolution of his thought, which oscillates between the condemnation of the unhealthy and dehumanized industrial city and an apology for the city as the site of encounters and cultural enrichment, intellectual exchange and growth. The city is undoubtedly what it is now, but it is also what it once was, and what it might one day become. As Oyón explains, Reclus was not concerned so much with the depopulation of the surrounding territories caused by the growth of the metropolis and its infinite needs, as he was with the project of facilitating a successful process of the suburbanization of the city, a spontaneous movement of the urban population towards the peripheries and rural outskirts of the cities.

This movement of return, a second moment of the mobilization of the population after the rural exodus, responds, as Reclus explains it, to the human impulse to become reacquainted with a nature that is now absent in the suffocating environment of the urban centers. The new urbanite, the citizen of the second or third generation, more adapted to the rhythms of the city, after having constructed for himself a little niche in its irrational economy, now wants to enjoy the wide open spaces. He misses the greenery and the peace of the backwoods. As Oyón says, concerning Reclus: “He would never abandon this ideal of the dual condition of the suburban individual who is both rural and urban at the same time, this vision of a city that is united with its surrounding countryside.”

In one of his most important texts, “The Feeling for Nature in Modern Society” (1866), Reclus writes:

“It becomes ever more essential to expand and refine our feeling for nature as the multitude of men who are exiled from the countryside by force of circumstances increases daily. Pessimists have long feared the ceaseless growth of large cities. Still, they seldom realize how rapidly in the future populations will be able to move toward the preferred centers.”

This passage may lead one to think that Reclus is one-sided, and too optimistic, in his judgment of such a phenomenon as the depopulation of the rural areas. In any event, he was very much aware of the “environmental” threat that the progressive urbanization of the rural peripheries of the cities could pose, and in some texts he harshly criticizes the destruction of the countryside, which was underway even in his time. Furthermore, for Reclus, according to Oyón’s analysis, the process of suburbanization included the possibility of abolishing the division between countryside and city and creating a mixed environment where human beings could enjoy the advantages of progress and the blessings of nature at the same time. It was necessary to re-divert this double movement of attraction and repulsion from the urban center towards a different kind of order.

This order would have to function in a way similar to the organic functioning of certain natural systems. The premier example is the hydrological cycle outlined in his famous book, Histoire d'un ruisseau [History of a Stream], in the chapter devoted to how water is brought to the city, in which Reclus explores the possibilities of a recyclable circulation of water and its reuse as drinking water, while also taking advantage of wastes as fertilizer for gardens and farms. Reclus, of course, had no illusions about the possibilities offered by the city of his time: “Unfortunately, the artificial organism of the cities is still far from approaching the perfection of the natural organs of living beings.”

Oyón’s analysis of other fundamental texts selected from Man and the Earth or from Reclus’s essays on the city, such as “The Evolution of Cities” (1895), led him to arrive at similar conclusions. The ideal Reclusian city has no exact boundaries; it issues from a gradual and orderly fusion of urban and rural environments. Here is what Reclus says in “The Evolution of Cities”:

“The normal development of the great towns, according to our modern ideal, consists, then, in combining the advantages of town and country life, —the air and scenery and delightful solitude of the one with the facile communication and the subterranean service of force, light, and water which belong to the other.”

In the Reclusian city, the downtown spaces of the city are collectivized. We must not forget that Reclus was an active participant in the Paris Commune of 1871, which is why he was deported and spent many years in exile, and that he never forgot his libertarian philosophy. For him, the privileged space of the city will be the agora for public debate, non-hierarchical and accessible to all. The political and esthetic wealth which the city can offer must also be combined with the experience of solitude provided by the countryside and nature.


As the inhabitant of the countryside becomes, as a result of his way of life and his mentality, more and more cosmopolitan [ciudadano] with each passing day, the urbanite, for his part, turns his gaze towards the countryside and dreams of living in the country.

In the same article, Reclus also observes that “the only obstacle to the indefinite extension of the towns and their perfect fusion with the country comes not so much from the distance as the costliness of communication….” Yet he concludes that “this limitation to the free use of the railroad by the poor is gradually giving way before the advance of social evolution”.

This article is also a good example of the positivist and progressivist philosophy of Reclus with regard to the city, which is expressed in his frequently cited formulation: “Where the cities increase, humanity is progressing; where they diminish, civilisation itself is in danger.”

Extensive arguments are not required to demonstrate the extent to which present-day conditions have refuted this claim. Reclus was not dismayed by the growth of cities like London or Chicago; he perceived this development as a necessary step towards suburbanization. As Oyón wrote: “If in 1866 Reclus saw the densely populated areas of the great cities as cemeteries where the new arrivals were buried, by the end of the century, with the introduction of new sanitation technologies and public health measures, most importantly the construction of sewers and water treatment facilities, and with the progressive de-concentration and dispersion of the population towards the suburbs with their green spaces, the mortality rate of the urban population had fallen below that of the rural population.”

The chapter from Pelletier’s book that we mentioned above constitutes a good synthesis of everything we have just discussed and—not to put too fine a point on it—we shall only call attention to something that Pelletier emphasizes as an obvious fact about the Reclusian meditation on the city. Pelletier reiterates Reclus’s tranquil acceptance of the growth of the metropolis. He also points out that Reclus was an early opponent of the “urbanophobic” critique. According to Pelletier, for Reclus there was nothing pathological or threatening about the growth of the city. There are many ways to explain this phenomenon, which is furthermore extremely complex. Despite all its shortcomings, the expansionist evolution of the city derives from a logic that is innate to the civilizing process itself.

Pelletier also points out that “the critique of the great cities reflects a ‘moralism’ that we may define as reactionary…. According to Reclus, urban concentration results from multiple factors: human sociability, the exchange of goods, and social and psychological security”.

Pelletier insists upon this double perspective that informs Reclus’s view of the city. Reclus repeatedly denounces the hideousness of the industrial city that devours masses of immigrants, but this does not prevent him from admiring the architectural beauty of certain neighborhoods and monuments. In fact, the city is the place where the poor day-laborer goes to bury his existence in the most crude anonymity, but it is also the place where that same day-laborer can dream of a better life and where, sometimes, he can attain prosperity and security for his family.

As Pelletier convincingly argues, Reclus was aware of the complexity of the migratory phenomenon and of urban growth: he vigorously denounced the rhetoric of certain moralistic landowners and aristocrats who were so horrified by the desertion of the countryside and the hypertrophy of the filthy working class suburbs, when they were themselves the cause of these calamities. As Reclus wrote in Man and the Earth:

“Who eliminated the common lands, who reduced and then completely abolished the customary rights of gleaning and collecting firewood, who cut down the forests and cleared the uncultivated lands, thus depriving the peasant of the fuel he needed? Who enclosed the lands in order to clearly define the constitution of a territorial aristocracy?.... What is so surprising about the flight to the cities, which is inevitable when the peasant no longer possess communal lands, when small workshops can no longer give him work, when his resources are diminished at the same time that his needs and expenditures are increasing?”

Reclus, with his vast geographical and historical knowledge, never lost sight of the interaction of social, economic and juridical factors that contributed to this general mobilization of the rural populations. Their uprooting, and their feeling of isolation, led them to seek their salvation in the urban jungle where, at least, the fire of a new hope burned.

Indeed, as Pelletier says, the impact of negative factors alone cannot explain the attraction that the city lights exercised upon the pariahs of the countryside.

Reclus, in another passage from Man and the Earth, applies this idea to a broader horizon:

“But these masses of men [the cities] have also given rise to ideas, and there, too, new works have arisen and the revolutions have broken out which have freed humanity from gangrenous senility.”

In terms similar to those used by libertarian authors such as Kropotkin, Rocker and Martínez Rizo, Reclus devotes many pages to describing the examples of freedom and autonomy that distinguished the best years of the medieval communes, the small republics of the Renaissance, etc. In the past, certain city-based forms of organization embodied, even if only partially, ideals of freedom and harmony and of associated and cooperative labor. For Pelletier, Reclus was above all a critic of the city in its capitalist form, the city of upscale neighborhoods and miserable ghettos, the city of intolerable contrasts and inequality. With regard to the question of the improvement of the city, however, Reclus was sympathetic towards reform projects that helped to make the city more habitable and hygienic. Hence his interest in Howard’s garden-city model and the projects undertaken by Patrick Geddes in Edinburgh.

What, however, did he think about the expansion of the city and its limits? And the city’s relations with the countryside and the nature that surround it, or which once surrounded it?

Pelletier writes:

“Of course, we might just label Reclus an optimist, assuming that he could not have conceived of the immense urban growth on a planetary scale that took place in the 20th century, and that, as a result, he could not have foreseen its enormous negative effects. But that would be wrong, because Reclus did foresee this phenomenon, and he was not opposed to it.”

This conclusion, however, is not satisfactory. It is true Reclus did foresee that cities like London and New York would continue to grow and to undergo an increase in population in the 20th century. While he did indeed anticipate urban growth, he was nonetheless not always aware of the environmental and logistical problems, many of them insoluble, that would be caused by the expansion of the city and its transformation into the conurbation; and not to speak, of course, of the social conflicts that would go hand in hand with these processes. It is hard to understand how, at the end of his life, Reclus articulated the conviction that only a revolutionary transformation could orient urban growth in a liberatory sense, in consideration of his evaluation of urban tendencies which he considered to be spontaneous and which he thought would open up possibilities for positive steps forward. The problem is far from simple.

Various questions arise at this point. The first question concerns the city’s very reason for existence. If it is true the city was born as a space confiscated by power, it is also true, as Reclus thought, that it was the product of that search for a more intense and vivid experience of social life that perennially springs forth from the human heart. Thus, if this desire is legitimate, it will always be necessary to constitute it within the limits imposed upon it by the material world. Within this framework, what is the ideal size of the city? How many inhabitants should it have? These questions, however, are trivial compared to the most crucial question: should the territory be conceived from the perspective of urbanization or suburbanization, as these concepts were understood by Reclus? In other words, even if we take into account structures that deserve our respect because they enhance the health and harmonious coexistence of the residents … should the city, as an idea and as a reality, absorb everything outside of it until it transforms the Earth into a landscape of parklands, gardens, villas, productive enclaves and public spaces?

In order to attempt to answer this question we may turn to John P. Clark’s book about Reclus, La Pensée Sociale d'Elisée Reclus: Géographe Anarchiste,2 and see how Clark understands the relation between humanity and nature. Clark accuses Reclus of having yielded to the temptation of viewing nature as all-too-domesticated, “humanized”, even though he does acknowledge that Reclus was lucid enough to criticize the most destructive effects that agriculture and forestry can have on the territory. We must not forget that, as an offspring of the extremely progress-oriented 19th century, Reclus began his in-depth investigation of the world by turning his gaze towards nature and discovering within it the most authentic source of our freedom and esthetic enjoyment. Clark points out that, in fact, some of Reclus’s urbanophile and progressivist positions may contradict other aspects of this thought, which is inevitable in such an extensive and varied corpus.

One example of such a contradiction is the fascination Reclus could feel for the dynamism of a city like Chicago, a veritable titan of industrial culture. This city, to which the poet Carl Sandburg dedicated his Chicago Poems (1916), which Sandburg called the “hog butcher for the world”, referring to Chicago’s gigantic slaughterhouse industry, would be the model for the mechanization of meat production that should be extended to other cities and countries.

The literature of the first few decades of the 20th century, if we consider such authors as Eliot, Lorca, Baroja, Dos Passos, Céline, Benjamin, and the Kafka of his labyrinthine Amerika or Döblin in his novel about Berlin, where butchers appear in their most brutal form, offers a disturbing picture of urban reality. It is obvious that Reclus did not undertake a profound analysis of the existential, paradoxical, destructive dimension of the mechanized megalopolis. The books written by these authors, however, shed light on this new historical stage of the city that he did not live to see.

So what was it about the 20th century that threw it off the rails of limited growth? A book published by Bookchin during the early 1960s, The Limits of the City, contains an attempt to come to grips with this problem.3 This book was published shortly before the publication of Bernard Charbonneau’s books, Le Jardin de Babylone [The Garden of Babylon] (1969) and Tristes Campagnes [Depressing Countrysides] (1973), which constituted milestones in reflection on the urban problem, but we have chosen Bookchin’s text because it is explicitly inscribed in the libertarian tradition to which Reclus belonged. Without referring to Reclus, or to other libertarians who addressed the question of the city, such as Paul Goodman or Colin Ward, Bookchin nonetheless picks up the argument where his predecessors left off and implacably analyzes the bourgeois city as a commodified space, evaluates the historical forms of the city such as the Greek polis and the medieval commune, and compares various urban utopias, from Thomas More, Fourier and Engels to Howard, Bellamy and Geddes. He concludes with a radical condemnation of the capitalist megalopolis. Bookchin was writing in an era that was very different from the era of Reclus: the American city had become an automotive hell, polluted, overcrowded and characterized by a declining ability on the part of its residents to live in such a close proximity to other people. The cities were not only filthy and unsafe, they were also stressful. At the same time, a generalized consciousness concerning these environmental problems was arising everywhere. Bookchin’s positive assessment of the counterculture as a critical and utopian movement in opposition to the megalopolis is of great interest. Bookchin does not reject the city, which in his view will still be a valuable force for socialization; he denounces the megalopolis, which he characterizes as “the absolute negation of the city”. He tells us: “This ‘anti-city’, neither urban nor rural in the traditional sense, affords no arena for community and genuine sociation…. The megalopolis is an active force in social dissociation and psychic dissolution. It is the negation of the city as an arena of close human proximity and palpable cultural tradition, and as a means of collecting creative human energies.”

Bookchin’s reflections are quite relevant for our time. Trapped in the megalopolis … where should we look for a way out?

Let us take a look at mythology. In his book, La invención de Caín [Cain's Invention] (1999), Félix de Azúa relates the biblical myth of the city, in which the city is depicted as the work of Cain after he was expelled from his family after committing his crime. For Azúa, the city, the work of Cain, coincides with the beginning of History. The city is the only place where mortals can live, those who know they will die, unlike gods and animals. The city is the artificial place par excellence, created by humans and for humans. As Azúa says:

“And Cain, from the very first moment that he became aware of death, protected his discovery with the great machines of the city. Against eternal, implacable, inextinguishable nature, he then built the citadel of death and of consciousness. The place for mortals. Our home.”

That is why, visiting and studying the cities, each and every one of them provides us with indispensible information concerning our ability to live in our order, only ours, an order that is our exclusive and appropriate property.

According to Azúa, the city excludes the laws of nature. The city, as a total artifact, establishes a clear-cut separation with all that lies outside of it. In the city, nature is only an exceptional remnant that is disposed of as mere filth, or, as is often the case, it is the threat of a catastrophe (floods, earthquakes, etc.). If the natural cosmos is the order of analogies where everything is united and interrelated, the metropolis is the space of separation and fragmentary analysis. Our condition, according to Azúa, is that of being condemned to live in this stronghold of separation, the only genuine place for the consciousness of death: “We will never reach the external order, we will never escape from the city”, in Azúa’s concise formulation.

This interpretation of the biblical myth, however, is as deceptive as it is seductive. In our view, Azúa deliberately confuses the city with its end result as a megalopolis or totalitarian conurbation. It is obvious that the city was not always a place that was so definitively separated from the natural world, and, in fact, we know that the cities of other historical periods, rather than being totally artificial citadels, preserved precisely those features that made a city worthy of the name: the possibility of valuing collective existence in plural terms which do not exclude the rhythms of nature or productive labor. Smaller cities, which were still enclaves of semi-rural, artisanal activities, which had not yet been totally separated from the countryside or the forests, were paradoxically even more genuinely urban spaces insofar as their populations could be more aware of their limits and thus be in a better position to correctly assess the price of their existence.

In this sense, it would be inconsistent to claim that only the fully artificial city is not only the space of the consciousness of death but also the space of the total ignorance of the laws that rule the cosmos, since our extinction is inscribed in those laws. Those “great machines” concerning which Azúa speaks, which Cain constructed to conceal the reality of death, comprise the first sign of the deception.

Concerning the disaster of these urban “machines”, literature provides more than enough evidence. We need only quote a few lines from Cernuda’s disturbing poem, Otras ruinas [Other ruins], the epitaph of the city and its boundless ambitions:

“The tower they built with machines
Falls into ruin by the work of machines”

With a lucid and objective tone, the poet traverses the ruins of the bourgeois, commercial city, the city of the commodity, where bureaucrats, financiers and bigwigs once went about their daily affairs. Now, prosperity is a thing of the past and all that remains is the guilty memory of excess:

“All that monstrous mass was not enough:
Its food, the fruits of distant colonies
Its frantic struggle, useless against space and time
Its noisy limbo deafens consciousness”

The vast commodified and totalitarian city deafens consciousness, rather than stimulating it.

Concerning the eruption of nature and the cosmos in the history of the city, we may refer to the brief ironic account of Hermann Hesse, “The City” (1910). In a few pages, Hesse relates the story of the birth of a flourishing, populous, mechanized city, and its subsequent decline and invasion by the jungle. The account begins as it ends, except that, while at the beginning it is the engineer who exclaims the triumphant “We’re moving onward!” when the railroad came, at the end of the account, after the complete ruination of the city, it is the woodpecker who says this. And the bird “regarded the growing forest and the glorious, green progress on earth with satisfaction.”

It was the city of capitalism, the megalopolis, the total metropolis, which brought this artificialization and this radical separation between urban space and nature to its most extreme point. This contradicts the idea that the city is an order constructed with our own, “appropriate” laws, as Azúa suggests. Nowhere more than the center of the megalopolis can make a human being have the most intense feeling that he has been expropriated of everything, and that he is alien to everything around him and that he is led by laws that he never made. Nowhere more than the center of the megalopolis can his consciousness be robbed of birth and death. Was it not precisely in the small villages of the past that the townsfolk themselves took it upon themselves to look after births and to bury their dead? Did they not live with their neighbors who were ill or insane? It is in the megalopolis where birth and death, madness and illness, are most meticulously concealed. What kind of consciousness of death can a computerized and over-equipped urbanite possibly have, when he believes that everything around him is an immutable and eternal second nature? The expropriation of death and illness in industrial societies was, we should recall, one of the central themes of Ivan Illich’s book, Medical Nemesis.

It will be objected that even in the midst of nature the human being can also feel lost, alien, out of place, and led by laws that are beyond his control. This is true, but it is precisely the nuclei of collective life that humanity, even under the influence of a questionable political power, was inventing and experimenting with over the course of history, and this presupposed mediations, agreements, and refuges where people could make nature and culture compatible. Some cities were fragile approximations of this condition. Today, such a possibility has been eliminated: the bridges have been burned.

The completely artificialized megalopolis towards which we are now heading embodies this perfected figure of the city of doom. Modern myths shed light on this phenomenon. Mike Davis compared the Dubai of skyscrapers and air-conditioned hotels with Bertolt Brecht’s Mahagonny. The comparison is apt. Mahagonny, the corrupt, hedonistic city, raised from nothing by Capital, threatened by the approaching hurricane, ignores the fact that the cancer of its own destruction is inherent to it. It has no need for external catastrophes:

“So where is the need for hurricanes?
What havoc is wreaked by typhoons
Compared to mankind wanting to have fun?”

The responses to the profound crisis that the city is experiencing today are varied and some of them are quite illuminating. In the book, Crisis de la exterioridad. Crítica del encierro industrial y elogio de las afueras [Crisis of Exteriority. Critique of Industrial Confinement and Praise for the Hinterlands] (2012), this question is addressed from a wide range of perspectives. In this book, the text by José Manuel Rojo, “Finis Urbis”, seems to make an essential point. Its author investigates the limits of the city, and seeks to find the places where the city ends or should end. He relates his fascination with his fortuitous discovery of agricultural or rural elements that remind him that his city, Madrid, was not always the way it is today. A city needs its limits in order to be able to be recognized and to be experienced. As he summarizes this issue with the following beautiful words: “If certain points of Madrid are impregnated with the vocation of boundaries, this is because this boundary is necessary, this is because the city itself requires a limit that distinguishes it from the outside and reinforces its own essence, making it possible that its life should not be witnessed, and that it should not devour everything that surrounds it.” This poetic vision is also echoed by the book, Lusitania fantasma [The Ghost of Lusitania] (2010), by Miguel P. Corrales, in which the charm that emanates from some of his pages derives from the fact that he is describing the old Portuguese cities where, up until only a few years ago, there was a mixture of rural and industrial, artisanal and contemplative, nature with its mystery intervening in urban spaces and creating unexpected landscapes.

To conclude, we may say that most contemporary libertarian thought no longer entertains any illusions with respect to the natural evolution of the city. The same may be said with respect to certain piecemeal solutions. The inhabitable city of the future will not come from the hand of government decrees or eco-marketing strategies. Picking up where Bookchin left off, Miguel Amorós recently pointed out that “the recovery of urbanized space for cultivation and the end of unilateral dependence does not mean the end of the collective project of city life….” For Amorós this involves the “de-urbanization of the countryside and the ruralization of the city, the return to the countryside and the return to the city”. This coincides quite closely with everything we said above: the future of the city is in the countryside. Another question that arises is how to mobilize consciousness under such an advanced state of adaptation to totalitarian urbanization. Amorós also addresses this problem when he adds that the inhabitants of the conurbation have no other choice but to destroy it, since hardly anything around them can be re-appropriated. Hence his insistence on combining attitudes that are simultaneously negative and constructive, from the city to the countryside and vice-versa. What is therefore needed is more dialogue and understanding between the two types of movements.4

It is certainly true that Reclus would not have entirely agreed with our conclusions, but it is also true that if he could see the 21st century and observe today’s urban development he would see things differently. In his time he began to intuit that a city without any connection with the countryside is incompatible with a collective and free life worthy of those adjectives. Today, in our amorphous and gigantic cities, which do not allow us to gaze upon the stars or behold the flight of swallows or herons, we know that this intuition was correct.

José Ardillo

Translated from the Spanish original in April 2015.

Originally published under the title, “Elisée Reclus y la ciudad sin limites”, Revista Argelaga, no. 4, April 2014. Available online at: https://argelaga.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/elisee-reclus-y-la-ciudad-sin-limites/.

  • 1. We should also mention that during the past year the proceedings of the conference held in Lyon in 2005 on the centenary of the death of Reclus have also been published in book form. This book, edited by Isabelle Lefort and Pelletier, contains a presentation on Reclus and the city, “La Ville dans l’ouvre de Reclus”, by Paul Claval. This text touches on the same topics addressed in our essay. In writing our article we have made use of the extremely valuable work by the researcher José I. Homobono, who also participated in the meeting in Lyon, published in 2009 in issue no. 31 of the Basque journal, Zainak: “Las ciudades y su evolución. Análisis del fenómeno urbano en la obra de Élisée Reclus” [Cities and their Evolution. Analysis of the Urban Phenomenon in the Work of Elisée Reclus], as well as his selection of texts and articles that appeared in the same issue. All the passages from Reclus quoted here come from his translation.
  • 2. Atelier de Création Libertaire, Lyon, 1996, 142 p.
  • 3. The Limits of the City was first published in 1973. The author may be confusing this book with another book by Bookchin that was published in 1965, Crisis in Our Cities [Translator's note].
  • 4. See also the pamphlet by Miguel Amorós, “El desorden urbano” [The Urban Disorder] (2011), especially the essay of the same name, which contains a clear rehabilitation of the concept of the rural.