Drawing inspiration from Sun Tzu’s dictum “know yourself and know the other”, this panel is dedicated to the study of how knowledge was gathered, analyzed and deployed in a range of complex polities found within Eurasia. The deep relationship between knowledge and power is widely accepted. This panel seeks to contribute to our understanding of that relationship by investigating it in contexts and along dimensions whose importance is acknowledged but which have yet to be properly researched. Scott Boorman’s paper lays the theoretical foundations for our approach. Instead of seeing Sun Tzu’s ideas as limited to a specific historical setting (i.e. Warring States China), he argues for their universal value by examining how later Chinese rulers used Sun Tzu’s teachings in their wars against their foes in both China proper and Inner Asia. Jianyuan Sun’s paper examines Sun Tzu’s teachings from a different geographical perspective: the Russo-Qing border. He argues that in this borderland region, the border between information, intelligence and scholarship has often been blurred: merchants can be spies, spies can be diplomats, diplomats can be scholars. Gagan Sood applies this approach to an adjacent region: the Persianate-Islamicate world of Mughal India and the Ottoman Near East. He analyzes in juxtaposition Mughal and Ottoman risālats, or treaties, that disseminated to the ruling elites inherited, collective knowledge of the art of governance. Lastly, Weiqing Chen looks into the establishment of academic knowledge in China about its northern neighbor – Russia, through its translation of Russian literary works.
Paper Presenter: Scott Boorman – Yale University
Paper Presenter: Jianyuan Sun – University of Washington
Paper Presenter: Weiqing Chen – Peking University