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The World Imagined


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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

Sovereignty, Order and Conflict presents

The World Imagined: Collective Beliefs and Political Order in the Sinocentric, Islamic and Southeast Asian International Societies.

Taking an inter-disciplinary approach, Spruyt explains the political organization of three non-European international societies from early modernity to the late nineteenth century. The Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires; the Sinocentric tributary system; and the Southeast Asian galactic empires, all which differed in key respects from the modern Westphalian state system. In each of these societies, collective beliefs were critical in structuring domestic orders and relations with other polities. These multi-ethnic empires allowed for greater accommodation and heterogeneity in comparison to the homogeneity that is demanded by the modern nation-state. Furthermore, Spruyt examines the encounter between these non-European systems and the West. Contrary to unidirectional descriptions of the encounter, these non-Westphalian polities creatively adapted to Western principles of organization and international conduct. By illuminating the encounter of the West and these Eurasian polities, this book serves to question the popular wisdom of modernity, wherein the Western nation-state is perceived as the desired norm, to be replicated in other polities.

Hendrik Spruyt

Professor, Northwestern University 

Hendrik Spruyt is the Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations in the department of Political Science at Northwestern University.

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