How would the history of international relations in 'the East' be written if we did not always read the ending – the Rise of the West and the decline of the East – into the past? What if we did not assume that Asia was just a residual category, a variant of 'not-Europe', but saw it as a space of with its own particular history and sociopolitical dynamics, not defined only by encounters with European colonialism? How would our understanding of sovereignty, as well as our theories about the causes of the decline of Great Powers and international orders, change as a result?
Professor Ayşe Zarakol latest book Before the West addresses these questions through a tour de force combination of historical research and theoretical insight. The book offers a grand narrative of (Eur)Asia as a space connected by normatively and institutionally overlapping successive world orders originating from the Mongol Empire. Through this dive into past, Professor Zarakol builds on history to rethink the foundational concepts and debates of international relations, such as order formation and decline.
Before the West has quickly become a necessary read for international relations audiences not only to correct their understanding of the history constituting our present but also to build the analytical tools to make sense of the times of profound change that lay ahead of us.
Dr. Ayşe Zarakol is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge. Her research appeared in journals such as International Organization, International Theory, International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, International Relations, International Studies Review, Journal of Democracy, Cooperation and Conflict.