“Great State” has gone missing from the vocabulary of state formations in Asia. Though widely used across Inner and East Asia over the past millennium, the term means nothing to most scholars today. It is not flagged, rarely noted, and never theorized. Recent thinking about inter-polity relations in Inner and East Asia has led me to regard the Great State as a distinctive type of political formation that should have a place in our conceptual toolkit if we scholars of Asia are to participate in writing the global history of empire. Given its near ubiquity, the virtual absence of a discourse on the Great State, ancient or modern, Asian or otherwise, may be more than just a curiosity, and it is worth wondering why.

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