Claude Raffestin’s Italian travels

Claudio Minca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is focused on the contribution that French Swiss geographer Claude Raffestin has made to Italian geography studies and, more generally, on his role in linking Italian geography to social theory and philosophy. It also explores the adoption of, and the engagement with, his ideas by a select group of Italian geographers during the last three decades or so. The first part of this paper claims that one reason for such an influence is Raffestin’s capacity to be often conceptually ‘ahead of time’ and to his extraordinary capacity to present his theoretical approach in a very accessible way. While reflecting on how his concepts of ‘territory’ and ‘territoriality’, together with his speculation on the relationship between semiotics, power, and space, left a deep mark on the ways in which the discipline is practised in Italy today, the paper also shows how and why other aspects of Raffestin’s work were less received. The second part of this paper is thus focused on four key ‘intersections’ of people, concepts, events, etc in which Raffestin’s specific contribution to the Italian intellectual scene became particularly remarkable. The conclusion, while restating that any clear cultural mapping of Raffestin’s ‘Italian travels’ is, perhaps, an operation doomed to failure (if anything, because of the complexity of his diverse interventions), at the same time highlights how his work has been and continues today to be of extraordinary relevance for Italian geographers and for their practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-158
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Raffestin, Italian geography, territory, territoriality, geographical theory

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