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France and the Mediterranean

International Relations, Culture and Politics

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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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Gérald Arboit - France and Cultural Diplomacy in the Mediterranean 133

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Gérald Arboit France and Cultural Diplomacy in the Mediterranean On 4–5 November 2008, while the meeting of the foreign af fairs min- isters of the member countries of the ‘Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean’ was drawing to a close, the Etats-généraux culturels médi- terranéens (Mediterranean Cultural Forum or MCF) were getting under way in the same location. For the first time since the launch of the Euro- Mediterranean partnership, the cultural constituent appeared to be linked to the political dialogue between the Mediterranean’s northern and south- ern shores. Better, the apparent continuity between the two events led one to believe that a more pro-active approach in the development of cultural cooperation was to be seriously endorsed by partners on each side of the Mediterranean. The most important aspect to this was that it took up and developed further a French initiative launched by President Jacques Chirac in Barcelona on 28 November 2005 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. Reasserting from the start of his first mandate (1995–2002) his intentions to follow an Arab policy, with strong Gaullist overtones,1 Chirac knew the extent to which cultural action is based on ‘une certaine idée de la France’ and is a powerful tool to demonstrate and enhance France’s power on the international stage. President Chirac was determined to give clear doctrinal direction to France’s foreign cultural action and he intended to use the Mediterranean as his privileged arena of inf...

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