William H. Schneider
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Geographical reform and municipal imperialism in France, 1870–80
in Imperialism and the natural world
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The coincidence of geographical reform following the Franco-Prussian War has been interpreted by historians of French imperialism to imply that the growth of geographical activity was essentially a nationalistic response to the defeat by the Germans. The geographical societies were very much the product of a nineteenth-century European society in transition from an aristocratic to a bourgeois leadership, and from a tradition of amateur to professional science. There were several reasons for changes in the geographical societies as they had existed in the early and middle nineteenth century. The commercial geographical societies were similar to the traditional societies in that their work, at least initially, concentrated on exploration and publication. The Societe de geographie was under pressure both to professionalise and demonstrate the economic usefulness of geography to the business community in the early 1870s.

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