Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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The Perpetual Peace Project brings various communities and disciplines together to revisit Immanuel Kant's provocative essay with reference to 21st century international priorities: non-state actors on the international scene, new concepts of asymmetric warfare and complex battlefields, post-9/11 security concerns, the fate of international norms governing war and peace, and the prospects for international community and world governance to reduce geopolitical conflict.

Immanuel Kant's foundational essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795), which takes the form of an international treaty, serves as the starting point for these considerations. Kant's essay anticipated the original League of Nations as well as subsequent multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union, and has inspired modern democratic peace theory. Less frequently considered is the text's satirical tone, which is figured in the Dutch innkeeper's sign with which the essay begins, upon which "Perpetual Peace" is written alongside the depiction of a burial ground. Should we read this association of perpetual peace with death with irony, namely as an attempt by the author to question from the very outset the impossibility of his stated project? Kant notes, for instance, that the world's most tenacious conquerors are often the most vocal proponents of perpetual peace, which is to be enforced by their universal rule and sovereignty. Is perpetual peace consequently an imperial, and impermanent, peace? Does it need divine justification, or can an international model of federated nation-states still guarantee this perennial dream?

Since Kant's essay takes the form of an international treaty, participants to the project will be encouraged to rewrite each article of the essay, revisiting Kant's founding manifesto for a new world order. Interdisciplinary scholars, leading artists and thinkers, humanitarian activists and development practitioners, political leaders and policy-makers will expand and extend the original text through several modules including international roundtables, artistic commissions and exhibitions, and multimedia offerings.


Partner logos are available for download in the EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) digital format. Thank you for respecting the Perpetual Peace Project's terms and conditions for download, which prohibit alterations to the file of any kind.

European Union National Institutes of Culture
International Peace Institute
Slought Foundation
Syracuse University Humanities Center
United Nations University

Contact Us

To contact the partner institutions or receive announcements about upcoming programs, contact Aaron Levy via Slought Foundation by phone at (215)701-4627 or by email at

Please note if you are with the media or institutionally affiliated, and if your request is time-sensitive.

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