Sparsely Populated Areas as a Specific Geographical Environment: A Global Theory and its Application to Arizona
François-Michel Le Tourneau
French National Center for Scientific Research
François-Michel Le Tourneau spent his early career researching in the Brazilian Amazon, working on issues like deforestation, Indigenous peoples and their territories or illegal gold mining, which he still works on today. He then broadened his research to the question of sparsely populated areas around the world, trying to establish if common patterns can be found "where humans are scarcer than square miles".
As a geographer, he considers fieldwork and the physical interaction with the places that he studies as a cornerstone of his research. He has lived about half his career in CNRS overseas positions, five years in Brazil as a researcher at the University of Brasilia and five years in Arizona as a researcher at UA. He was also involved in dozens of fieldwork missions in the Brazilian Amazon and in other places like Arizona and, most recently, Sweden.
He was the scientific coordinator and organizer of five expeditions in the Amazon and in French Guiana, some of them having been recorded in documentary films. He is the author of three books (the most recent about illegal gold mining in French Guiana) and the author of over 100 papers published in major geography journals like Journal of Rural Studies, The Annals of American Geographers, Geojournal or Cybergeo.