I finally got the end of Francois Chaubet (ed.), La Culture Francaise dans le Monde: Les Defis de la Mondialisation, 1980-2000 (Paris: Harmattan, 2010) If you’re interested in the development of French cultural relations over the last three decades I’d certainly recommend it.
The title is a bit of a misnomer because many of the chapters cover the period up to about 2006, as such it gives quite a good sense of the debates behind the reorganizations and changes that have gone on over the last 3-4 years.
The coverage is quite comprehensive in terms of themes ; The Culture Ministry under Jack Lang, the Alliance Francaise, changing concepts of support for higher education, books, arts, cinema, television, Sciences Po, and the national library. Full contents are here.
The overall picture is of a system that is having to adapt to a world that is changing and if anything you got the impression that the debates here are converging with those in the UK in becoming a bit more instrumental.
Particularly useful chapters are the one by Guy Lachard on television which helps to clarify the origins of different Francophone international TV projects, Denis Rolland updates his earlier work on the decline of the French model in Latin America. Paul Ardenne looks at the evolution of the international art system and the decline of France’s place in it, although as a partial offset, Sophie Claudel the former cultural attache in London recounts setting up a charity to promote links between the British and French art worlds while disguising the hand of the French embassy. There’s an interesting chapter on the Alliance Francaise in China – which makes the point that they had had to set up in partnership with universities so as such the Confucius Institutes are re-exporting this model.