Long associated with urban geography and Megalopolis – a paradigmatic study of the post-World War II urbanized Northeastern seaboard of the US subsequently applied to different regions of the world – Jean Gottmann (1915–94) contributed also to regional, economic, historical, and political geography. Recent studies stress the continuity between his political geography and Megalopolis, since the political partitioning of geographical space is the result of the interaction of network flows (‘circulation’) and territorial identities (‘iconographies’) of communities, through the key role played by nodes (crossroads chains). Free from any determinism, Gottmann’s general contribution to human geography could be seen as focused on the organization of space, with a particular interest in how psychology shapes the material forms and structures of cohabitation (‘territory is a psychosomatic device’). Twice a political refugee, an academic and linguistic nomad, Gottmann is considered the first cosmopolitan geographer, though awareness and recognition of his work within the discipline was mixed: his influence largely occurred outside the confines of academic geography and affected two separate audiences: specialists in international relations, and urban planners and architects.
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