SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Rethinking empires: What is the Mongol Great State, and why do we need it?

IMG - Timothy Brook
Timothy Brook (Professor of Chinese and World History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver)

Date: 31 October 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 31 October 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

Type of Event: Talk

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Since the 17th century, commentators on China have adopted the language of "empire" to speak of the Chinese state. The original model was the Roman empire, and that analogy was not misplaced when Europeans first applied it, but it may not help us with formulating a global history that recognizes the multiplicity of historical paths to the present. This presentation explores the possibilities of using the Mongol concept of Great State.


Timothy Brook started his career as a specialist in the history of the Ming, studying trade routes and the ways commerce and culture intertwined. He then moved on to become one of the most renowned historians of early modern and modern China, publishing prolifically on various aspects of Chinese history, from imperial China's legal system (2008) to the Japanese occupation of China (2005) to the suppression of the democracy movement in 1989 (1992). More recently he went on to write about global connections in the early modern world and China's place in it (Vermeer's Hat: the Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World, 2009) and the history of the Mongol Yuan and Ming dynasties (2010). His new book, Great States (2019), written to appeal to a broader audience, is an exploration of an alternative concept of empire, a concept that speaks squarely to the cultural confrontations and ideological struggles of our own troubled times.


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration

Chair: Dr Andrea Janku (SOAS)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute and the SOAS History Department

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823