Which social contract for the 21st century?

Which social contract for the 21st century?

Maison Rousseau et Littérature

P.-G. Berthault, Apothéose de J.-J. Rousseau, 1798–1804, etching. Exhibition view “Pop Rousseau”, MRL, 2023.

April 3, 2023
Which social contract for the 21st century?
International competition
Submissions deadline: June 28
Maison Rousseau et Littérature
Grand-Rue 40
1204 Geneva
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm

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In launching this international, interdisciplinary competition, the MRL seeks to reward projects that give Rousseau’s Contract a new outlook for the future by creating a new model of society, suited to urgent contemporary crises.

By affirming the principle of the people’s sovereignty through a community of free subjects, advocating the liberation of the individual through education, and denouncing the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, Jean-Jacques Rousseau helped to set the coordinates of modern politics. His thinking could not have been closer to today’s concerns. We are living in times of great upheaval. From famine to floods, fires, and heat waves, the catastrophic effects of climate change threaten our very existence. Poverty, war, violence, and discrimination continue to deprive millions of their most basic rights to health, water, security, and education. With the rise of populism and of cultural isolationism, more and more people are turning away from the values of trust and solidarity that bind humanity together: at a time when our society is threatened, it is urgent that we invent a new paradigm for tomorrow, a social contract for the 21st century.

This international, interdisciplinary competition aims to promote projects that examine the social contract in light of contemporary crises and draft a design for tomorrow. By investigating avenues for a new social order serving the general interest, this competition should facilitate a collective rethinking of ecology, public health, participatory democracy, social justice, and any other key global factors, creating substantial impetus for a new model of society. Based on a theme crucial to Rousseau—contract, obligation, common good, public interest, citizenship, amour des lois, governmentality, property, security, corruption, secularism—entries to this competition, individual or collective, may come in any form, using any medium: theoretical text, work of art, film, practical project, etc.

This initiative aims to encourage the highest possible public engagement with contemporary and future societal issues. It is open to young people and adults, artists, academics, interdisciplinary research groups, associations, NGOs, schools, and anyone else who is interested.

Deadline for submission: June 28, 2023, at midnight (CET).​ Proposals should be sent here.

A social contract for the 21st century is initiated by the MRL and the Domaine de Villette Foundation. The project is supported by the latter. Please contact us if you are also interested in sponsoring this program: Donatella Bernardi, MRL Director, Patrick Gosatti, Head of project.

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Maison Rousseau et Littérature
April 3, 2023

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