ISS Fellow Publishes New Book on Asian International Relations

Michael van Walt van Praag, a senior research fellow at the UC Davis Institute for Social Sciences, has co-edited a new book titled “Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis Khan.”

Published this month by the University of Chicago Press, Sacred Mandates examines the complex history of inter-polity relations in Inner and East Asia from the thirteenth century to the twentieth.

Rather than proceed sequentially by way of dynasties, the editors identify three “worlds”—Chingssid Mongol, Tibetan Buddhist, and Confucian Sinic—that represent different forms of civilizational authority and legal order. This framework illuminates the effects of the complicated history at play between and within regions.

Contributors from a wide range of disciplines cover a host of topics: international law, sovereignty, state formation, ruler legitimacy, and imperial rule and expansion, as well as the role of spiritual authority on state behavior, the impact of modernization, and the challenges for peace today.

After five years of collaborative research, van Walt van Praag and his co-editors Miek Boltjes and Timothy Brook hope that Sacred Mandates will serve as the definitive historical guide to international and intrastate relations in Inner and East Asia for years to come.

Sacred Mandates achieves a fundamental and sweeping revision to how we think about nation-states and nationalism,” writes reviewer James Carter, professor of history at St. Joseph’s University. “Nowhere else can readers find such impressive scholarship on the deep historical roots of Inner and East Asian international relations in one volume.” 

Michael van Walt van Praag came to UC Davis from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he was on the faculty of the School of Historical Studies for four years as its Visiting Professor of International Relations and International Law.

A specialist in intra-state conflict resolution, he has served as mediator in peace talks and as advisor to negotiating parties in many parts of the world, but mostly in the Caucasus, Asia, the South Pacific and Africa. He is currently Executive President of Kreddha, an international, non-governmental organization for the prevention and resolution of violent intra-state conflicts, which he co-founded in 1999. 

Learn more about Michael van Walt van Praag.