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France and the Mediterranean

International Relations, Culture and Politics


Edited By Emmanuel Godin and Natalya Vince

This multidisciplinary edited volume examines wide-ranging exchanges between France and its Mediterranean neighbours and their impact. It questions the changing notion of a Mediterranean space and its representation, centrality and relevance in terms of France’s international relations under Sarkozy’s presidency, from the launch of the Union for the Mediterranean and its complex articulations with the European Union’s own agenda in the region, to the tortuous relations with Libya, made even more complicated by the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’. Beyond the realm of state relations and formal policy networks, the volume examines the crucial role played by diasporas, the interplay between postcolonial and transnational representations in the fields of cultural diplomacy, cinema and architecture, and considers how these can produce merged or hybrid identities. Later in the collection, the politics of ethnicity in post-war France, the interplay between negative perceptions of Islam and the changing memory of the Algerian War, and the evolution of Franco-Algerian relations since 1962 are used to question the weight of the colonial past when analysing the relations between France and North Africa.


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Jean-Yves Moisseron and Manar Ezzat Bayoumi - The Mediterranean: A Contested Concept 19


Jean-Yves Moisseron and Manar Ezzat Bayoumi The Mediterranean: A Contested Concept Over the past five decades, the Mediterranean has become the central refer- ence for European public policy. The reinforced Mediterranean policy, the Barcelona Process, the New Neighbourhood Policy, and more recently the Union for the Mediterranean, all use and function within this geographical framework which appears to be obvious and completely organic. However, in contrast with the overall scope and depth of integra- tion achieved by the EU over the past fifty years, Euro-Mediterranean regional ambitions seem to have been thwarted by recurring dif ficulties and the results remain rather modest, if not outright disappointing. The reasons for this slow Euro-Mediterranean regional integration are widely documented1 and it is not the objective of this chapter to discuss them any further. Rather, this chapter will seek to demonstrate that a partial responsibility for this failure finds its precise origins in the way in which the Mediterranean has been conceptualized, represented and used as a legitimate geographical framework to structure European public policy. It is our contention that the way the Mediterranean is conceptualized, as an obvious, given and organic geographical framework to determine and organize the parameters of European initiatives and policies, is based on a myth. As such, it acts as a veil, masking and obstructing the region’s fundamental issues and making it dif ficult to find realistic and operative solutions to these challenges. In particular, to rely on such a Mediterranean myth often leads decision-makers to ignore the...

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