This project provides a wide-ranging and inclusive reinterpretation of the history of equestrian nomadic empires from the fourth century BCE to the late nineteenth century CE. The project has four major objectives that are interrelated. First, it expands the scope of the research significantly by extending it beyond the better known Eurasian nomadic empires into the Americas, where new research has revealed—and may yet reveal—previously unidentified nomadic empires. The project also re-examines the 7th-century expansion of the Arab Bedouins as an expression of nomadic imperial formation. Second, the project seeks to untangle the study of nomadic empires from normative and mechanistic models by developing new conceptual avenues that allow us to examine nomadic empires on their own cultural terms. It re-examines the intersections among mobility, expansion, exploitation, incorporation and dominance by reorienting research toward a new set of heuristic avenues: the nodal spatial composition of nomadic regimes, the centrality of borderlands in imperial formation, and a notion of nomadic empires as kinetic empires that turned mobility into an imperial strategy. Third, the project breaks new methodological ground by showing how innovative and underused approaches—integration of environmental and imperial histories; blending of multiple analytical scales to reveal the socio-political complexity of nomadic societies; and a specific spatial reorientation in which developments are viewed holistically from nomadic domains outward—produce a broader and more nuanced understanding of the emergence, behaviour and historical influences of nomadic empires. Such approaches will uncover a range of different nomadic empires across the world over a vast time span. The fourth objective of the project is to represent and explain those empires as a multifaceted world-shaping phenomenon through process-oriented comparisons that focus on imperial dynamics rather than imperial types.
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