Mainstream International Relations’ (hereafter IR) penchant to debate power within statist frames is well known. But in the din of conformism, a pervasive manifestation of power often overlooked imperialism. Intriguingly, despite being the most enduring political system to have existed in most parts of the world, the empire remains an understudied subject within IR.1 The focus has primarily been on the Westphalian order and the manner in which relations between sovereign states have evolved since the 17th century. The retrospective interpretation of international history has meant a diminishing interest in time periods more distant from the one

 This essay draws upon research conducted for my book, Interrogating International Relations: India’s Strategic Practice and the Return of History (New Delhi and London: Routledge, 2011).