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Perpetual Peace Project Expands Global Footprint
The Perpetual Peace Project (PPP)—a multilateral curatorial program, co-founded by Syracuse University—has announced two new initiatives, exploring the possibilities of world peace from a humanistic perspective.
The first initiative involves the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University (UU) in the Netherlands, which has been designated as PPP’s permanent home. UU will house not only PPP’s administrative offices, but also its archives, including personal and professional papers, as well as audio and visual materials. The move coincides with UU’s launch of a newly updated PPP website.
The second initiative concerns the publication of “Kant for Kids” (UU, 2015), an e-book written and designed by UU students that deals with Immanuel Kant’s landmark essay, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” on which the goals of PPP are based. Published in Dutch, the book will be translated into English later this year.
Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, co-founded PPP in 2008 with Aaron Levy, executive director of the Slought Foundation, and Martin Rauchbauer, a former Austrian diplomat who now runs New York University’s Deutsche Haus.
“We’re writing a new chapter in the life of the Perpetual Peace Project,” says Lambert, who also directs the Mellon-funded Central New York Humanities Corridor. “Utrecht University has long served as the spiritual home of PPP, sponsoring an array of events and projects that has involved Syracuse faculty. Now that we are permanently based there, we can leverage our presence in ways that previously weren’t possible.”
Along with Syracuse, UU and the Slought Foundation, PPP partners with various organizations and institutions around the globe, including the European Union National Institutes of Culture, the United Nations University, the International Peace Institute and the Treaty of Utrecht Chair professorship.
Currently, PPP is in the third and final phase of a nine-year production cycle, yielding an array of feature films, publications, and exhibitions propounding Kant’s pacifist ideologies. They include “Kant for Kids,” published last month, and “Histories of Violence,” a two-year ongoing project, directed by Brad Evans, a senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Bristol (U.K.), looking into the theoretical, aesthetic and empirical dimensions of mass violence.
“’Kant for Kids’ translates the concept of perpetual peace into a terminology that’s accessible and understandable to children,” says Lambert, who advised the creation of the book with several UU professors, including Rosi Braidotti, director of the Centre for the Humanities and a longtime PPP collaborator.
He says most of the work was done over a two-year period at UU by four graduate students and a team of interns. Brandon Pakker, then a master’s student of philosophy, came up with the concept as a way to contemporize the six “Preliminary Articles” in Kant’s famous 1795 essay.
“The students didn’t just translate Kant’s text; they placed it within a contemporary political, social and economic framework,” says Lambert, who regards Kant’s articles as “action steps for peace.” “The result is a book that stands on its own or may be incorporated into a classroom lesson on philosophy or politics.”
Begun in 2008, PPP didn’t catch fire until 2010 with Syracuse SymposiumTM, whose theme that year was “Conflict: Peace and War.” Then the founding director of the Syracuse University Humanities Center (which sponsors Syracuse Symposium), Lambert began organizing various PPP events along the East Coast, including a documentary film and an art exhibition, as well as myriad workshops, seminars and symposia. A high-water mark was the Dali Lama’s visit to Syracuse in 2012. Lambert—and, by extension, PPP—made national headlines by introducing the Dalai Lama at a public forum and orchestrating some of the related programming.