Roland J.-L. Breton, born in Paris in 1931, where he accomplished his student cursus at the Political Sciences Institute (195I-55) and the Sorbonne (in Geography and History, 1954-58), and, after entering the French public service through competitive examinations like the Agregation, had different academic or diplomatic positions in India, Poland, and France. He joined the Geography Department of Aix-Marseille University in 1963 and received the grade of Doctor in Nizza (1973) with a dissertation on the geography of the languages of India, published as an Atlas at Laval U.P. (Québec, 1976).
While keeping his position in Aix, he has been attached to the
Yaounde University (1975-1980) and to the Cameroon Institute of Human Sciences (1980-87) where he was dealing with the Linguistic Survey of six central African states, ending with the publication
of the ALAC series (Central Africa Linguistic
Atlas). As a geolinguist,
working with a team of linguists and sociolinguists, he led many field missions to the most remote parts of Cameroon, where he had the opportunity to discover several unknown languages, some
disappearing, as the the Furu group, whose three languages had only one, two and a dozen speakers.
He studied the geography of Louisiana French and frenchness (1976) and of New England Franco-Americans (1980) under two Fulbright awards, and was Visiting professor at the University of Washington (1982). His books, The Geography of Languages (1976), on Ethnics (1981) and The Geography of Civilizations (1987), have been translated in Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, English, Arabic and Chinese.
After leaving Cameroon, he came back to Aix-Marseille University where he has been teaching Cultural, Political and Third World Geography (1987-1991). In 1991, he has been elected Professor of Geography at the University of Paris n°8 (Vincennes-Saint Denis) to take in charge the teaching of geography in the doctorate formation on Third World Development, common to the Universities of Paris 7 (Jussieu) and Paris 8 ; and he created new courses on cultural geography in Saint Denis (1991-1994). In 1994, he decided to retire and became Professor Emeritus of the same University of Paris 8.
Thus, R. Breton is more in position to publish new books like Ethnopolitics (1995), From Language to speeches (1996), Atlas of the Languages and Ethnic Communities of South Asia (Sage, Delhi, 1997), Peoples and States : The Impossible Equation ? (Flammarion, 1998, Le Mot et le Reste, 2006), Atlas of World's Languages (Autrement, 2003), Horizons and Borders of Mind (Le Mot et le Reste 2006, Atlas of World's Minorities, Autrement, 2008).
As to participate to international conferences (London, 1995, Gdansk, Mysore, Gdansk, Geneva, Philadelphia, Udine, 1996, Lausanne, Bruxelles, Sion, 1997, San Juan de Puerto-Rico, 2000), to deliver specialised courses in foreign countries (Aosta, 1997-2000, Hangzhou 1995, Shanghai, 1996, Napoli, 1997), to participate to scientifical projects like those of the Centre for Computer Assisted Cartography in Aix-en-Provence, The Linguasphere Observatory for a World’s Languages Register (Wales), The Sociolinguistic Atlas of Senegal (1998), etc.