I’m convinced that the Anglo-Saxon conversation about public diplomacy would be richer if we had a better understanding of how the French conceptualize the activity. In a nutshell the French concepts of diplomatie culturelle and relations culturelles can’t simply be treated as equivalent to the English versions of the terms – they are much broader, have different connotations and are much more central to the conception of diplomacy. Put it this way when the official history of ‘diplomatie culturelle’ (Roche and Pigniau 1995) includes discussion of the dispatch of military advisers to the Ottoman Empire and identifies Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt as the starting point of ‘relations culturelles’ because he took many scholars and artists with him you know you are not dealing with the British Council.
If you’re at a computer on Monday and Tuesday you may be interested in following the live stream of this conference being held in Paris – the link is here – earlier there was mention of English and Spanish versions of the feed being available.
Roche, F., and B. Pigniau (1995) Histoires de Diplomatie Culturelle des Origines à 1995. Paris: ADPF ;la Documentation française.
Via Google Translate the description of the conference.
Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy: “An asset for France in a changing world” (12 and 13 December 2011)
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the French Institute organized on 12 and 13 December at the College de France, an international symposium on the priorities of cultural diplomacy with the participation of Mr. Alain Juppé, Minister of State, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Mr Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, Mr. Xavier Darcos, President of the French Institute, and many personalities from the diplomatic, cultural associations and universities from around the world .
The Ministry has initiated an ambitious reform of its cultural system by creating three operators:
– The French Institute in charge of cultural activities and outdoor real tool in the major objectives of our foreign policy: to strengthen the influence of France in the world, supporting the cultural development of countries for which we have a duty of solidarity, promote dialogue and cultural diversity.
– France international expertise to strengthen our ability to meet the high demand for expertise in developing countries and emerging markets. This flow of gray matter, for our economy, our influence, as for the development of other countries is crucial.
– CampusFrance for student mobility and the attractiveness of our universities, whose creation is being finalized.
An exhibition developed by the diplomatic archives of the Quai d’Orsay on “cultural diplomacy, a century of French inventions” will complete two days of debate and will be presented at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève from 13 December to 18 in February. It will be inaugurated by Henri de Raincourt, Minister for Cooperation.