With thorny topics in Asian international relations, sovereignty, territory and borders in the news more or less daily, understanding what is at stake in this vitally important region, and why there are so many disagreements here, has never been more important. But while it is widely known that ‘modern’ bounded sovereign statehood is a pretty new and a historically contingent phenomenon in much of the world, the afterlives of the political orders that came before this are usually less appreciated.
, Michael van Walt van Praag
and Miek Boltjes
’ part co-edited, part co-authored book Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis Khan
(University of Chicago Press, 2018) thus fills a vital gap. Multidisciplinary and vast in scope, this uniquely structured volume presents writing from the junctures of history, international relations, international law and many other adjacent subject areas, arguing forcefully and in rich detail for the relevance of longstanding Mongolian, Tibetan, Chinese, Manchu and other political practices to the contemporary world. Appreciating the enduring relevance of layered, relational and non-exclusive ties which dominated this part of Asia before the arrival of Euro-derived political ‘modernity’ may help us see what is afoot when the Chinese Communist Party intercedes in matters of Buddhist reincarnation. Still more optimistically, such an understanding may also help to resolve some of the globe’s most intractable and consequential conflicts.
Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.