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22 May 2024 | Assoc. Prof. Naosuke Mukoyama | Seminar: Peace-Making and State-Making: The Case of Early Modern Japan  

What drives the formation of sovereign states? Existing accounts, most of which are based on European experience, argue that war-making is essential to state formation. This paper draws on a non-European international system to present a different explanation: peace-making and state-making. Departing from the existing theory that emphasizes the role of constant warfare under anarchy, it argues that it was the relative stability of hierarchical international order that emerged after a period of warfare that promoted state formation. It substantiates this argument through an examination of domanial states in Tokugawa Japan, which were officially under the shogunate’s rule but retained significant autonomy. It shows that state formation in premodern Japan accelerated after the end of the Warring States period, not during it. The introduction of loose hierarchical order and relative stability enabled states to build institutions and resources needed to demarcate their territories and bring society under their control. This paper thus tackles Eurocentrism in IR and offers an alternative account of state formation based on a non-European case.

The full description of the event will be provided in due course.


26 April 2024 | Assoc. Prof. Manjeet S. Pardesi | Seminar: Interconnected Asian History and “Open” World Orders  

Historical Asia was an interconnected system of “open” world orders. This is a crucial theoretical takeaway for International Relations (IR) theory from historical Asia. There were multiple, unevenly overlapping orders in historical Asia. This perspective which is rooted in the global historical approach to IR challenges the Eurocentric notion of the ‘containerized’ version of Asian regional worlds and world orders that only came into meaningful contact with each other because of the early modern European expansion. At the same time, this global and historical perspective also challenges all essentialist views of the East Asian past that characterize that part of the world as living in splendid Sinocentric isolation from the rest for thousands of years until China and East Asia were “opened up” by the West. Two crucial periods/processes of Asian history show the deep and transformative impact of the entanglements between South Asia and East Asia for Asian world orders: the Indic-Buddhist impact on China in the first millennium (and into the early centuries of the second millennium), and the role of India in the so-called “opening up” of China by the West in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These processes provide two crucial insights. First, historical East Asia was not a China-centered system for 2,000 years. Second, and relatedly, pre-European East Asia was not a “closed” system. Asia and its sub-regions defy singular and all-encompassing orders, and Asian history points towards a plurality of open and overlapping orders. Notably, the emerging regional orders in Asia are also pointing towards such a configuration. Asia is not one, but Asia is not disconnected either. 

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2024 GRADNAS Seminar Series   

The GRADNAS Seminar Series in 2024 will showcase the emerging scholarship on the historical International Relations of Asia. There has been a “global” and a “historical” turn in International Relations scholarship in recent years. Scholars are increasingly looking at Asian history to enrich International Relations theory. What are the theoretical insights that emerge from studying Asian history? Does Asian history provide us with new concepts and new understandings of order? Does Asian history challenge the received metanarratives of International Relations theory? How were historical Asian polities connected with each other and with the world beyond Asia? Can the International Relations theoretical findings from Asian history shed light on other parts of the world? What, if anything, do these findings tell us about the emerging world order? Join us as we celebrate and showcase the excellent research by GRADNAS members and friends on the Historical International Relations of Asia. 

The full description of the event will be provided in due course.

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