24 June 2020

CHAPTER: Jan DUMOLYN & Jo VAN STEENBERGEN, 'Studying Rulers and States across Fifteenth-Century Western Eurasia', in: Jo VAN STEENBERGEN (ed.), Trajectories of State Formation across Fifteenth-Century Islamic West-Asia. Eurasian Parallels, Connections and Divergences [Rules & Elites, vol. 18] (Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff/Brill, 2020), pp. 88-155, ISBN 978-90-04-43131-7, OPEN ACCESS

(image source: Brill)

First paragraph:
In this second chapter we seek to embed the preceding chapter as well as the other contributions to this volume within various interpretative traditions of state formation studies in order to determine a heuristic ground for better understanding the parallels, connections and divergences of fifteenth-century ‘statist’ appearances in the historiography of Islamic West-Asia, and of Western Eurasia more generally.1 The main questions at stake are as follows: how have researchers operationalized concepts of ‘the state’, of its formation and of its transformation within the various historiographical traditions; what conscious or unconscious presuppositions and assumptions have driven this operationalization; and how has social theory been applied in this process in various ways. This discussion of some of the major conceptual debates on ‘the state’ in the study of fifteenth-century Western Eurasia will be pursued in a pragmatic way. It will be oriented towards identifying and explaining some of the most widely or most explicitly used models of state formation within different research traditions. The rationale here complements that of the first, empirical chapter in aiming to make fifteenth-century Islamic West-Asia’s political history more accessible and intelligible to wider audiences while also inviting specialists of these different traditions to rethink what they know about their subjects within wider or unexplored frameworks.
Read the whole chapter (and edited volume) for free here.

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