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MENTAL MAPS AND FOREIGN POLICY DECISION-MAKING: EURAFRIQUE AND THE FRENCH MILITARY INTERVENTION IN MALI

Benedikt Erforth

Abstract


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Abstract

Mental maps matter. By looking at France’s decision to launch a military operation in Mali in January 2013, this article decrypts the complex compound of decision-makers’ mental maps focusing in particular on the geographic image of Eurafrique. When justifying the military intervention in one of their country’s former colonies, French decision-makers framed the Malian crisis as an imminent threat to the European continent, emphasising geographical vicinity and the close ties between Africa and Europe. These arguments mirror the concept of Eurafrique, a spatial construction that stresses the complementary and interdependence between the two continents. This article reintroduces the notion of Eurafrique as a frame for analysing the present-day French security discourse towards the African continent in general and towards France’s former colonies in particular. The argument joins the debate on the use of mental maps in the field of foreign policy analysis (FPA). The findings show that the notion considerably influenced French decision-makers’ perception of the crisis in Mali, but also points to the narrative’s limited reach as its success is dependent not only on the transmitter but also on the recipients.

Keywords: Mental maps, international security, France, Africa, political psychology

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Bibliography: Erforth, Benedikt: Mental maps and foreign policy decision-making: Eurafrique and the French military intervention in Mali, ERIS, 2-2016, pp. 38-57. https://doi.org/10.3224/eris.v3i1.26006


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