The book interrogates the disciplinary biases and firewalls that inform mainstream international relations today, and problematises the several tropes that have come to typify the strategic histories of post-colonial societies such as India. Questioning a range of long-held cultural representations on India, the book challenges such portrayals and underscores the centrality of context and contingency in any cultural explanation of state behaviour. It argues for a historico-cultural understanding of power and critiques IR’s tendency to usher in a selective ‘return of history’.
Taking two contrasting case studies from medieval Indian history, the book assesses the success and failure of the grand strategy pursued by the Mughal empire under Akbar. The study emphasises his grand strategy of accommodation, defined by the interplay of critical variables such as distance and the vast military labour market. The book also looks at his conscious attempt to indigenise power by projecting himself as the personification of the ideal Hindu king. This case study helps to contextualise the many critical transitions that occurred in international relations: from medieval empires to the modern state system, and from an indigenised, experiential understanding of power to its absolute, abstract manifestations in the colonial state.
List of Maps and Tables. List of Abbreviations 1. Temporal Journeys: Reorienting International Relations 2. India’s Strategic Practice: Theory Meets Practice 3. The Making of Mughal Grand Strategy: Material and Ideational Influences 4. Strategies of Conciliation and Coercion: Two Case Studies 5. Conclusion: New Directions in International Relations. Appendix. References
This Series seeks to foster original and rigorous scholarship on the dynamics of war and international politics in South Asia. Following Clausewitz, war is understood as both a political and a social phenomenon which manifests itself in a variety of forms ranging from total wars to armed insurrections. International politics is closely intertwined with it, for war not only plays an important role in the formation of an international order but also a threat to its continued existence. The Series will therefore focus on the international as well as domestic dimensions of war and security in South Asia. Comparative studies with other geographical areas are also of interest.
A fundamental premise of this Series is that we cannot do justice to the complexities of war by studying it from any single, privileged academic standpoint; the phenomenon is best explained in a multidisciplinary framework. The Series welcomes a wide array of approaches, paradigms and methodologies, and is interested in historical, theoretical, and policy-oriented scholarship. In addition to monographs, the Series will from time to time publish collections of essays.