Maria Adele Carrai is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program (2017-18) and recipient of a Marie Curie Fellowship [PEGASUS]² at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies – KU Leuven (2017-20). Her research focuses on China’s legal history and how it affects the country’s foreign policy. As a fellow at the China and The World Program, she looks at China as a normative actor and its impact on the international economic and legal order, with a particular focus on the One Belt One Road.
Before she arrived at the China and the World Program, she was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute of Florence (2015-17), Global Hauser Fellow at the New York University Law School (2016-17) and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University (2017), where she worked on revising her thesis, on several new projects on the late 19th and early 20th century Chinese legal history, and on contemporary Chinese approaches to international legal order.
Maria Adele was trained as a sinologist and political scientist in Italy (University La Sapienza, Ca’ Foscari University, University of Bologna), the UK(Erasmus scholarship at the School of Oriental and African Studies) and China (Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Scholarship). After having spent one year as visiting doctoral researcher at NYU she completed her Ph.D. in 2016 at the University of Hong Kong, where she was a recipient of the Hong Kong Government Ph.D. Fellowship, the Swire Scholarship, and the Award for Outstanding Research Postgraduate Student for 2015-16.
Her book project “A Genealogy of the Concept of Sovereignty in China from 1840” is now under contract with Cambridge University Press. The book looks at the way Chinese intellectuals, political figures, and diplomats appropriated and articulated the notion of sovereignty in their foreign policy within the new discourse of international law in the period between 1840 to the present. It shows how China was not a passive receiver of Western international legal norms but rather an active appropriator and manipulator, which – in deviating from the teleology imposed by the West – contributed to the globalization of international law. By tracing a genealogy of the notion of sovereignty in China from the earliest introduction of international law until the present, the book provides a historical perspective through which to better understand the path China is taking as a normative actor within the international global order.
Maria Adele’s general research interests include international law and relations, Western and Chinese legal and political philosophy, legal history, Chinese foreign policy. She is a native speaker of Italian, is fluent in Chinese and French, and has a basic knowledge of Japanese and Arabic.