Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Politics. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 May 2024

Interconnected Asian History and “Open” World Orderslocked

Interconnected Asian History and “Open” World Orderslocked

  • Manjeet S. PardesiManjeet S. PardesiPolitical Science and International Relations Programme, Victoria University of Wellington

Summary

Historical Asia was an interconnected system of “open” world orders. This is a crucial theoretical takeaway for International Relations (IR) theory from historical Asia. In other words, there has never been one single order covering all of Asia or any of its subregions. 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 for thousands of years until China and East Asia were “opened up” by the West. Two crucial periods and 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 1st millennium (and into the early centuries of the 2nd millennium), and the role of India in the so-called opening up of China by the West in the 19th and 20th centuries.

These processes provide two crucial insights. First, historical East Asia was not a China-centered system for 2,000 years. The Buddhist impact on China had a profound impact on both the Chinese worldview and the world order(s) that existed in (East) Asia. More specifically, the Buddhist interconnections across Asia demonstrate that the “international” (or the global) was larger than East Asia, and that China and its eastern neighbors knew that too. Second, and relatedly, pre-European East Asia was not a “closed” system. While the expansion of Europe may have “opened up” China and East Asia in the 19th century, this represented the “opening up” of that part of the world for the West, and not because East Asia lived in Sinocentric isolation from the rest of Asia. Furthermore, Indian resources played a fundamental role in that Sino-Western encounter, thereby demonstrating the interconnectedness of the world orders of South and East Asia. Asia and its subregions defy singular and all-encompassing orders, and Asian history points toward a plurality of open and overlapping orders. Notably, the emerging regional orders in Asia are also pointing toward such a configuration. Asia is not one, but Asia is not disconnected either.

Subjects

  • History and Politics
  • World Politics

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Access to the full content requires a subscription