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The nomadic other: Ontological security and the Inner Asian steppe in historical East Asian international politics

Abstract
Abstract

A growing literature in IR addresses the historical international politics of East Asia prior to Western influence. However, this literature has taken little note of the role of Eurasian steppe societies and empires in these dynamics. This article offers a corrective, showing that relations between China and the steppe played an important role in regional politics. I argue that Chinese elite conceptions of the steppe as other played an important role in maintaining China’s ontological security. Imperial Chinese elites pursued a deliberate strategy of ‘othering’ steppe societies, presenting them as China’s political-cultural opposite. Doing so both provided a source of stable identity to China and justified their exclusion from the Chinese ‘world order’. Empirically, I proceed in three sections. First, I consider Chinese identity building, framed in terms of ontological security, both under the founding Qin and Han dynasties, and under the later Ming dynasty. Second, I address recent historiography of the steppe, showing Chinese conceptions of it were inaccurate. Third, I address the long history of hybridity between the two regions.

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I would like to thank Simon Pratt, Christopher David LaRoche, Lincoln Rathnam, three extremely helpful reviewers, and the editors of the RIS for help in preparing this article.

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1 Zhang Yongjin, ‘System, empire and state in Chinese International Relations’, Review of International Studies, 27:5 (2001), pp. 4363; Kang David C., East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010); Zhou Fangyin, ‘Equilibrium analysis of the tributary system’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 4:2 (2011), pp. 147178; Kelly Robert E., ‘A “Confucian long peace” in pre-Western East Asia?’, European Journal of International Relations, 18:3 (2012), pp. 407430; Zhang Yongjin and Buzan Barry, ‘The tributary system as international society in theory and practice’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 5:1 (2012), pp. 336; Ringmar Erik, ‘Performing international systems: Two East-Asian alternatives to the Westphalian order’, International Organization, 66:1 (2012), pp. 125; Joseph MacKay, ‘Rethinking the IR theory of empire in late Imperial China’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific (forthcoming).

2 Nomadic peoples generally have recently received attention in IR. Neumann Iver B. and Wigen Einar, ‘The importance of the Eurasian steppe to the study of International Relations’, Journal of International Relations and Development, 16 (2013); MacKay Joseph et al., ‘Before and after borders: The nomadic challenge to sovereign territoriality’, International Politics, 51:1 (2014), pp. 101123.

3 The word is, of course, contentious. ‘Barbarian’ has been use to translate multiple Chinese terms that may usefully parallel the equivalent Greek root, a practice I follow here, for simplicity’s sake. An alternative usage is simply ‘foreigner’. For a detailed discussion of these translation issues, see Nicola Cosmo Di, Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 9596, fn. 7.

4 Kang , East Asia Before the West, p. 140.

5 The term is due to Fairbank John K. (ed.), The Chinese World Order: Traditional China’s Foreign Relations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968).

6 Mitzen Jennifer, ‘Ontological security in world politics: State identity and the security dilemma’, European Journal of International Relations, 12:3 (2006), p. 341; Steele Brent J., Ontological Security in International Relations: Self-Identity and the IR State (London: Routledge, 2007); Rumelili Bahar (ed.), Conflict Resolution and Ontological Security: Peace Anxieties (London: Routledge, 2014).

7 Neumann Iver B., ‘Self and other in International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 2:2 (1996), pp. 139174. ‘Others’ have been associated with identity formation by philosophers and social scientists at least since Hegel. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, ed. John Niemeyer Findlay, trans. Arnold V. Miller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977).

8 Rumelili Bahar, Constructing Regional Community and Order in Europe and Southeast Asia (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007). Nor, as Abizadeh has recently argued, does identity building require an other. Abizadeh Arash, ‘Does collective identity presuppose an other? On the alleged incoherence of global solidarity’, American Political Science Review, 99:1 (2005), pp. 4560.

9 Johnston Alastair Iain, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Ming China (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995); Hui Victoria Tin-bor, War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Wang Yuan-Kang, Harmony and War: Confucian Culture and Chinese Power Politics (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2011).

10 The canonical account is Fairbank, The Chinese World Order. While historians increasingly question Fairbank’s framework, few doubt the system was usually hierarchical, and no alternative account has been widely accepted. For a survey of criticisms, see Hevia James L., ‘Tribute, asymmetry, and imperial formations: Rethinking relations of power in East Asia’, Journal of American-East Asian Relations, 16:1–2 (2009), pp. 6983.

11 This is not to say the regional order persisted for the entire imperial era – rather, it accrued gradually, as neighbouring states joined its Confucian value system. Kang describes it peaking during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Kang, East Asia Before the West.

12 Pines Yuri, Envisioning Eternal Empire: Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2009), p. 1.

13 Kang David C., “Hierarchy and legitimacy in international systems: The tribute system in early modern East Asia’, Security Studies, 19:4 (2010), pp. 593, 595. For a realist account, see Wang, Harmony and War.

14 East Asia Before the West, p. 140.

15 Ibid., p. 10.

16 Kelly, ‘A “Confucian long peace” in pre-Western East Asia?’ The peace was nonetheless puzzling. In contrast, the same period in Europe (roughly the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries) included all the Reformationary wars, including the Thirty Years War, as well as the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. It was an extraordinarily bloody period. Alternately, the East Asian peace was more than ten times as long as, and considerably less violent than, the original ‘long peace’ – the Cold War.

17 This literature belongs to a broader trend toward conceptualising non-Western historical international systems. See especially English School accounts, including Watson , The Evolution of International Society: A Comparative Historical Analysis (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 8593; Buzan Barry and Little Richard, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 5760. The subject has often arisen in the context of comparing international systems: Donnelly Jack, ‘Rethinking political structures: From “ordering principles” to “vertical differentiation” – and beyond’, International Theory, 1:1 (2009), pp. 4986, Donnelly Jack, ‘The elements of the structures of international systems’, International Organization, 66:4 (2012), pp. 609643; Ringmar, ‘Performing international systems’. See also Hobson John M., The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

18 Mitzen, ‘Ontological security in world politics’; Steele, Ontological Security in International Relations.

19 Mitzen , ‘Ontological security in world politics’, p. 346.

20 Ibid., pp. 353–63.

21 Steele Brent J., ‘Ontological security and the power of self-identity: British neutrality and the American Civil War’, Review of International Studies, 31:3 (2005), pp. 519540.

22 Jelena Subotić, ‘Narrative, ontological security, and foreign policy change’, Foreign Policy Analysis (2015). See also research by social psychologists – for example, Kinnvall Catarina, ‘Globalization and religious nationalism: Self, identity, and the search for ontological security’, Political Psychology, 25:5 (2004), pp. 741767.

23 Mitzen treats ontological (in)security as a property of states as unitary actors. Others, such a Krolikowski, are sceptical. I focus on Chinese elite individual efforts to construct a collective identity, eliding the methodological problem of treating states as unitary, but nonetheless focusing on the collective identity of the state. Subotic adopts a similar approach. Mitzen, ‘Ontological security in world politics’; Krolikowski Alanna, ‘State personhood in ontological security theories of International Relations and Chinese nationalism: A sceptical view’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 2:1 (2008), pp. 109133; Subotić, ‘Narrative, ontological security, and foreign policy change’.

24 Neumann, ‘Self and other in International Relations’, p. 165, emphasis in original. The article also reviews self/other logics in IR and social theory. See also Inayatullah Naeem and Blaney David L., International Relations and the Problem of Difference (London: Routledge, 2004).

25 See, for example, Rumelili, Constructing Regional Community and Order in Europe and Southeast Asia.

26 Steele , Ontological Security in International Relations, p. 40.

27 Not all ontological security frameworks in IR emphasise self/other relations. While Mitzen makes no direct reference to it, the concept is important to Steele’s account. Ibid., pp. 26–7, 30–2.

28 Neumann Iver B., Uses of the Other: The ‘East’ in European Identity Formation (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), pp. 218219.

29 As Neumann and Wigen have recently argued, steppe societies have been ‘roundly neglected’ in IR, in terms of understanding relations both between steppe polities, and between steppe and settled peoples. Neumann and Wigen, ‘The importance of the Eurasian steppe to the study of International Relations’.

30 Lewis Mark Edward, The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2010), p. 1.

31 Ibid., p. 2.

32 Pines Yuri, The Everlasting Empire: The Political Culture of Ancient China and Its Imperial Legacy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), p. 34.

33 Lewis , The Early Chinese Empires, pp. 135136, emphasis added.

34 Quoted in Lewis Mark, ‘The Han abolition of universal military service’, in Hans van de Ven, Warfare in Chinese History (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000), pp. 4546. The passage is from a biography of Chao in the Han shu or Book of Han, by the historian and court official Ban Gu.

35 Qian Sima, ‘The world beyond China’, in Patricia Buckley Ebrey (ed.), Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook (2nd edn, New York, NY: Free Press, 1993), p. 55.

36 Qian Sima, Records of the Grand Historian of China, trans. Burton Watson (Hong Kong: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 12. Sima Qian’s account of the nomadic other had historical parallels, including the Greek view of the Scythians, found in Herodotus. Stuurman Siep, ‘Herodotus and Sima Qian: History and the anthropological turn in Ancient Greece and Han China’, Journal of World History, 19:1 (2008), pp. 140.

37 Cosmo Di, Ancient China and Its Enemies, pp. 196199.

38 The tian-xia concept has been revived as a normative political-theoretic programme by the Chinese philosopher Zhao Tingyang (‘Rethinking empire from a Chinese concept “all-under-heaven” (tian-xia),” Social Identities, 12:1 (2006), pp. 29–41; ‘A political world philosophy in terms of all-under-heaven (tian-xia)’, Diogenes, 56:1 (2009), pp. 5–18.) For critique, see Callahan William A., ‘Chinese visions of world order: Post-hegemonic or a new hegemony?’, International Studies Review, 10:4 (2008), pp. 749761. For a defence, see Ren Xiao, ‘Traditional Chinese theory and practice of foreign relations’, in Yongnian Zheng (ed.), China and International Relations: The Chinese View and the Contribution of Wang Gungwu (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 102116.

39 Pines Yuri, ‘Changing views of Tianxia in pre-imperial discourse’, Oriens Extremus, 43 (2002), pp. 101116.

40 Pines Yuri, ‘Beasts or humans: Pre-imperial origins of sino-barbarian dichotomy’, in Reuven Amitai and Michal Biran (eds), Mongols, Turks and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 9091.

41 Lewis , The Early Chinese Empires, p. 2.

42 Fiskesjö Magnus, ‘On the “raw” and the “cooked” barbarians of Imperial China’, Inner Asia, 1:2 (1999), pp. 139168.

43 Quoted in ibid., p. 143. ‘Li’ refers in general to uncivilised peoples of non-Chinese origin. Ibid., p. 158.

44 A Song dynasty historian took an analogous view of steppe peoples: ‘Let us not seek victory over them … They are like unto all manner of insects, reptiles, snakes, and lizards. How could we “receive them with courtesy and deference”?’ quoted in Wright David C., ‘The northern frontier’, in David Andrew Graff and Robin D. S. Higham (eds), A Military History of China (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2012), p. 57.

45 This view was not limited to the steppe – it applied to multiple peripheral peoples. See Scott’s account of imperial relations with Southeast Asian hill tribes. Scott James C., The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009). Tellingly, Scott references Barfield’s ‘shadow empires’ in framing his account. Barfield Thomas J., ‘The shadow empires: Imperial state formation along the Chinese-Nomad frontier’, in Susan E. Alcock et al. (eds), Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Only the steppe both received this rhetorical treatment and presented a military threat. Exceptionally, Ming and Qing authorities had difficulty dealing with pirate polities on the Chinese coast. Being relatively short-lived, institutionally adaptable, and opposed to Chinese rule, they had striking parallels with the steppe. MacKay Joseph, ‘Pirate nations: Maritime pirates as escape societies in late Imperial China’, Social Science History, 37:4 (2013), pp. 551573.

46 Even during the Yuan and later Qing nomadic conquest dynasties, the bureaucratic elites of the empire remained ethnically Chinese, passing through the meritocratic selection process of civil service exams. Nomads joined the imperial elite only through conquest. While nomads occasionally served in China’s northern armies, they did not lead them.

47 By this time, the states were states, in the sense of being centralised and bureaucratised. For example, civil service exams dated from the Han dynasty, and were formalised during the Tang dynasty (618–907). Woodside Alexander, Lost Modernities: China, Vietnam, Korea, and the Hazards of World History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 12. East Asian state consolidation thus predates equivalent processes in Europe. It occurred in China, Korea, and Vietnam, and to a lesser extent in Japan, where a feudal warrior aristocracy persisted. Kang , East Asia Before the West, pp. 2553.

48 Quoted in Wang Gungwu, ‘Ming foreign relations: Southeast Asia’, in Denis C. Twitchett and Frederick W. Mote (eds), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 12.

49 Brook Timothy, The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 86, 8.

50 Rossabi Morris, ‘The Ming and Inner Asia’, in Denis C. Twitchett and Frederick W. Mote (eds), The Cambridge History of China Volume 8: The Ming Dynasty 1368–1644 Part 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 222223.

51 Quoted in Brook , The Troubled Empire, p. 29.

52 Huang Siu-chi, Essentials of Neo-Confucianism: Eight Major Philosophers of the Song and Ming Periods (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999), p. 4.

53 Brook , The Troubled Empire, pp. 182185.

54 Fairbank, The Chinese World Order.

55 Mackinder viewed nomads as akin to natural disasters occasionally visited upon sedentary civilisations. Mackinder H. J., ‘The geographical pivot of history’, The Geographical Journal, 23:4 (1904), pp. 421437. Lattimore, while more nuanced, sharply distinguished between settled and steppe peoples, emphasising environmental factors. Lattimore Owen, Inner Asian Frontiers of China (New York, NY: American Geographical Society, 1940). For recent discussion, see Rogers J. Daniel, ‘Inner Asian states and empires: Theories and synthesis’, Journal of Archaeological Research, 20:3 (2012), pp. 209, 215–16; Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), pp. xxi–xxv.

56 Barfield Thomas J., The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China 221 BC to AD 1757 (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1989); Barfield, ‘The shadow empires: Imperial state formation along the Chinese-Nomad frontier’.

57 For a critical review of dependency, see Rogers , ‘Inner Asian states and empires’, pp. 214217.

58 Chiefly Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian of China.

59 Rogers , ‘Inner Asian states and empires’. For a useful review of archaeological literature on the region, see Philip L. Kohl, The Making of Bronze Age Eurasia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). For a systematic account of China’s interaction with these polities, see Di Cosmo, Ancient China and Its Enemies. For a review of recent archaeological evidence, see Hanks Bryan K., ‘Archaeology of the Eurasian steppes and Mongolia’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 39:1 (2010), pp. 469486. For additional synthesis on Mongol hierarchy during the period, see Kradin Nicolay N., ‘Heterarchy and hierarchy among the ancient Mongolian nomads’, Social Evolution & History, 10:1 (2011), pp. 187214.

60 Houle Jean-Luc, ‘Socially integrative facilities and the emergence of societal complexity on the Mongolian steppe’, in Bryan K. Hanks and Katheryn M. Linduff (eds), Social Complexity in Prehistoric Eurasia: Monuments, Metals and Mobility (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 371.

61 Shelach Gideon, ‘Violence on the frontiers? Sources of power and socio-political change at the easternmost parts of the Eurasian steppe during the late second and early first millennia BCE’, in Bryan K. Hanks and Katheryn M. Linduff (eds), Social Complexity in Prehistoric Eurasia: Monuments, Metals and Mobility (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 241271.

62 Frachetti Michael D., ‘Multiregional emergence of mobile pastoralism and nonuniform institutional complexity across Eurasia’, Current Anthropology, 53:1 (2012), pp. 238.

63 Murphy Eileen M. et al., ‘Iron Age pastoral nomadism and agriculture in the Eastern Eurasian steppe: Implications from dental palaeopathology and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 40:5 (2013), pp. 25472560.

64 Numbers vary with the nebulous borders of Inner Eurasia as a region, and with the definition of ‘empire’. Rogers finds 15 large-scale steppe polities. Turchin finds 13 Central and Inner Asian ‘“mega” empires’, although not all were consistently nomadic. Rogers , ‘Inner Asian states and empires’, p. 208; Turchin Peter, ‘A theory for formation of large empires’, Journal of Global History, 4:2 (2009), p. 202.

65 Cosmo Nicola Di, ‘State formation and periodization in Inner Asian history’, Journal of World History, 10:1 (1999), p. 14; see also Di Cosmo, Ancient China and Its Enemies.

66 Honeychurch William, ‘The nomad as state builder: Historical theory and material evidence from Mongolia’, Journal of World Prehistory, 26:4 (2013), p. 284.

67 Quoted in Golden Peter B., Central Asia in World History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 28.

68 Honeychurch , ‘The nomad as state builder’, pp. 313314.

69 Hansen Valerie, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600 (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co, 2000), pp. 56.

70 Rogers , ‘Inner Asian states and empires’, p. 208.

71 Carneiro Robert L., ‘A theory of the origin of the state’, Science, 169:3947 (1970), p. 735.

72 Barfield , The Perilous Frontier, pp. 2426.

73 Sneath David, The Headless State: Aristocratic Orders, Kinship Society, & Misrepresentations of Nomadic Inner Asia (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2007).

74 Rogers , ‘Inner Asian states and empires’, p. 213.

75 Honeychurch William, ‘Alternative complexities: The archaeology of pastoral nomadic states’, Journal of Archaeological Research, 22:4 (2014), p. 277. Many innovations were technological, including horse riding and the chariot. Anthony David W., The Horse, the Wheel and Language : How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

76 Murphy et al., ‘Iron Age pastoral nomadism and agriculture in the Eastern Eurasian steppe’; Honeychurch , ‘Alternative complexities’, p. 304.

77 Barfield, The Perilous Frontier.

78 Honeychurch , ‘Alternative complexities’, pp. 292, 294, 310.

79 Ibid., p. 306.

80 Sneath, The Headless State, pp. 23, 181.

81 Roads plural – multiple routes intersected, overlapped, and varied over time. Parzinger Hermann, ‘The “Silk Roads” concept reconsidered: About transfers, transportation and transcontinental interactions in prehistory’, The Silk Road, 5:2 (2008), p. 7.

82 Honeychurch , ‘Alternative complexities’, pp. 295, 307–8; Honeychurch William, Inner Asia and the Spatial Politics of Empire: Archaeology, Mobility, and Culture Contact (New York, NY: Springer, 2015), pp. 277278; see also Beckwith , Empires of the Silk Road, pp. 2628.

83 Morgan David, The Mongols (2nd edn, London: Blackwell, 2007), p. 5. Mongol Imperial historiography presents unique research challenges, including ‘a bewildering array of languages, of which Chinese and Persian are undeniably the most important but which also include Latin, Greek, Russian, Georgian, Armenian, Arabic, Syriac, Tibetan, Korean and even (to some extent) Mongolian.’ Jackson Peter, ‘The Mongol Empire, 1986–1999’, Journal of Medieval History, 26:2 (2000), p. 190. Jackson nonetheless usefully reviews recent research. The key primary source concerning the empire itself is Urgunge Onon, trans., The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan (London: Routledge, 2011). It’s historical accuracy remains disputed. Morgan, The Mongols.

84 Skrynnikova Tatyana D., ‘Relations of domination and submission: Political practice in the Mongol Empire of Chinggis Khan’, in David Sneath (ed.), Imperial Statecraft: Political Forms and Techniques of Governance in Inner Asia, Sixth-Twentieth Centuries (Bellingham, WA: East Asian Studies Press, 2006), p. 86.

85 Allsen Thomas T., ‘Technologies of governance in the Mongolian empire: A geographic overview’, in David Sneath (ed.), Imperial Statecraft: Political Forms and Techniques of Governance in Inner Asia, Sixth-Twentieth Centuries (Bellingham, WA: East Asian Studies Press, 2006), p. 123.

86 Sneath David (ed.), ‘Imperial statecraft: Arts of power on the steppe’, Imperial Statecraft: Political Forms and Techniques of Governance in Inner Asia, Sixth-Twentieth Centuries (Bellingham, WA: East Asian Studies Press, 2006), p. 19; Allsen , ‘Imperial statecraft’, pp. 3738.

87 Darwin John, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400–2000 (New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2009), pp. 46.

88 Rogers , ‘Inner Asian states and empires’, pp. 236237; Perdue Peter C., China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).

89 Atwood Christopher P., ‘Titles, appanages, marriages, and officials: A comparison of political forms in the Zünghar and thirteenth-century Mongol Empires’, in David Sneath (ed.), Imperial Statecraft: Political Forms and Techniques of Governance in Inner Asia, Sixth-Twentieth Centuries (Bellingham, WA: East Asian Studies Press, 2006), p. 209.

90 On Qing conquest, see Perdue , China Marches West. On late steppe political structures, Lhamsuren Munkh-Erdene, ‘The 1640 Great Code: An Inner Asian parallel to the treaty of Westphalia’, Central Asian Survey, 29:3 (2010), pp. 269288.

91 Thus, for example, Honeychurch cites positively elements of Lattimore’s and Barfield’s arguments.

92 These new accounts have not been accepted without debate. Golden Peter B., ‘Review of the headless state: Aristocratic orders, kinship society, and misrepesentations of nomadic Inner Asia. By David Sneath’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 68:1 (2009), pp. 293296.

93 A strong variant of the revisionist account appears in Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road. Beckwith posits long historical cycles of conflict between Central Eurasia and polities at their continental peripheries, in Europe and East Asia. Inner Asian empires, he argues, created economic exchange networks that benefitted core and peripheries alike (the Silk Road being the most famous), but which were periodically destroyed by conquering peripheral empires. He thus offers not an account of Inner Asian history alone, so much as a geographical theory of world history – or, at least, a large part of it. It is thus not necessarily conducive to assessing the specifics of China-steppe relations. His synthesis has also been somewhat controversial – even proponents of the revisionist view do not wholly follow it. (See, for example, Cosmo Nicola Di, ‘Empires of the Silk Road: A history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present, by Christopher I. Beckwith’, Journal of Global History, 4:3 (2009), pp. 510512.) I follow some of Beckwith’s specific observations, but not his general theory.

94 Neumann and Wigen, ‘The importance of the Eurasian steppe to the study of International Relations’; Neumann Iver B., ‘The steppe and early European state formation’, Uluslararasi Iliskiler / International Relations, 8:30 (2011), pp. 312.

95 Wright , ‘The northern frontier’, pp. 6466.

96 Lewis Mark Edward, China’s Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), pp. 147148.

97 Brook , The Troubled Empire, p. 27.

98 Allsen Thomas T., ‘The rise of the Mongolian empire and Mongolian rule in North China’, in Denis C. Twitchett, Herbert Franke, and John King Fairbank (eds), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States, 710–1368 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Morgan, The Mongols.

99 Brook , The Troubled Empire, p. 27.

100 Ibid., p. 81.

101 Rossabi , ‘The Ming and Inner Asia’, p. 275.

102 Bol Peter K., Neo-Confucianism in History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008), p. 216.

103 Rawski Evelyn S., ‘Presidential Address: Reenvisioning the Qing: The significance of the Qing period in Chinese history’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 55:4 (1996), pp. 829850. See also Crossley Pamela Kyle, A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999); Elliott Mark C., The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China (1st edn, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001). For a sceptical view, see Ho Ping-Ti, ‘In defense of sinicization: A rebuttal of Evelyn Rawski’s “Reenvisioning the Qing”’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 57:1 (1998), pp. 123155.

104 Nexon Daniel H. and Wright Thomas, ‘What’s at stake in the American Empire debate’, American Political Science Review, 101:2 (2007), p. 264.

105 Waley-Cohen Joanna, ‘The new Qing history’, Radical History Review, 88:1 (2004), pp. 194195.

106 Ibid., p. 199.

107 Millward James, Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2009), pp. 97101.

108 Quoted in Newby Laura, The Empire And the Khanate: A Political History of Qing Relations With Khoqand c1760–1860 (Leiden: Brill, 2005), p. 29.

109 Perdue Peter C., ‘China and other colonial empires’, Journal of American-East Asian Relations, 16:1–2 (2009), p. 93.

110 Larsen Kirk W., ‘The Qing empire (China), imperialism, and the modern world’, History Compass, 9:6 (2011), p. 499.

111 Perdue, China Marches West.

112 Waldron Arthur, The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 6.

* I would like to thank Simon Pratt, Christopher David LaRoche, Lincoln Rathnam, three extremely helpful reviewers, and the editors of the RIS for help in preparing this article.

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