Interconnected Asian History and “Open” World Orders

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Graduate Research and Development Network on Asian Security (GRADNAS) Seminar Series

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.

About the speaker
Manjeet S. Pardesi is Associate Professor of International Relations in the Political Science and International Relations Programme, and Asia Research Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. His research interests include Historical International Relations, Great Power Politics, Asian security, and the Sino-Indian rivalry. He is the co-author of The Sino-Indian Rivalry: Implications for Global Order (with Sumit Ganguly and William R. Thompson, Cambridge University Press, 2023). He is currently working on a book project titled Worlds in Contrast: Hegemonic and Multiplex Orders in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean (with Amitav Acharya, forthcoming with Yale University Press). His articles have appeared in European Journal of International Relations, Security Studies, Survival, Global Studies Quarterly, Asian Security, Australian Journal of International Affairs, International Politics, Commonwealth &Comparative Politics, International Studies Perspectives, Nonproliferation Review, Air & Space Power Journal (of the United States Air Force), The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, World Policy Journal, India Review, Defense and Security Analysis, and in several edited book volumes. He is the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of India’s National Security (Oxford,2018) and India’s Military Modernization: Challenges and Prospects (Oxford, 2014).  He is the Managing Editor of the journal Asian Security (since June 2018).

This event is the first in the GRADNAS Seminar Series of 2024. The series 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. Visit our website here.

Kindly note that this seminar will be recorded. Zoom details will be sent prior to the seminar. For more information, contact the GRADNAS Coordinator, Tommy Chai at

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