Within intellectual traditions in the Global South, there have been reflections on notions of self, community, and governance for several hundred years preceding the growth of a Euro-American conceptual vocabulary forged in the crucible of empire and Europe’s self-appointed role in the world. Recovering these categories of thought is not merely an act of sentimentality, it is rather, a stepping out beyond the glare of an ignorance created by Euro-American categories. It is an attempt to think societies and polities in their own terms and from within their concepts. Some of these may be translatable into categories familiar to existing social science theory; some may sit beside known concepts as markers of alterity; and yet others may be distinctive to a locale of life and thought. Not all conceptions are translatable across cultures and this gives us occasion to think about the hubris of the universal assumptions of the social sciences.