The Assimilation and Subordination of Elite Cultures
This chapter offers a comparative perspective on the depth and modalities of elite integration in ancient empires. Its interest is in the ways in which the ruling groups of empires (universal rulers) bridged the distance and difference that divided them from the preexisting concentrations of power (local elites) on whom they relied. It argues that cosmopolitanism—a complex of practices and ideals that enabled certain individuals not only to cross cultural boundaries but also to establish an enduring normative framework across them—was an indispensable instrument of imperial rule. The chapter distinguishes between two forms of cosmopolitan politics. Assimilation works by eliding the cultural difference between universal rulers and local elites, whereas subordination operates by recognizing, preserving, and organizing difference..
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