The importance of the Eurasian steppe to the study of international relations

Einar Wigen, Iver B Neumann
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal of International Relations and Development
Issue Number
Publication Date
July 2013
Central and East European International Studies Association
This article is a call for making the Eurasian steppe an object of study within International Relations. The first section argues that the neglect of the steppe is due to 19th-century prejudice against non-sedentary polities as being barbarian. This is hardly a scholarly reason to neglect them. The second section is a nutshell overview of literature on the steppe from other fields. On the strength of these literatures, we postulate the existence of what we call an almost three thousand year long steppe tradition of ordering politics. The third section of the article suggests that the steppe tradition has hybridised sundry polity-building projects, from early polity-building in the European the Middle Ages via the Ottoman and Russian empires to contemporary Central Asian state-building. We conclude this exploratory piece by speculating whether a focus on the steppe tradition may have the potential to change our accounts of the emergence of European international relations at large.
International Relations, Politics
Political Geography
Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Eurasia