IIAS Newsletter 48 Summer 2008

Social networking in pre-modern Asian History

Stewart Gordon

Most histories of Asia are about nation/states, such as China, India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, or Sri Lanka. Nation/states are, indeed, a suitable unit of analysis for the 20th century, perhaps even for the 19th century, when nationalists imagined their respective nations. But what about earlier eras when empires sprawled across today’s national boundaries then collapsed into successor states? How are historians to capture a time without passports, with porous borders, and family networks that crossed continents?

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