Thomas J. Christensen

Alastair Iain Johnston 江憶恩


  • Deputy Director

Chen Yali (Lily)

  • 2016-2017 Fellow

Nate Adler

  • Alumni Student Affiliate

Maria Adele Carrai

2017-2018 Fellow

Maria Adele Carrai is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program and recipient of a Marie Curie Fellowship at KU Leuven. Her research focuses on China’s legal history and how it affects China’s foreign policy. As a fellow at the China and The World Program she will look 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.

Maria Adele was trained as a sinologist and political scientist in Italy (La Sapienza University, Ca’ Foscari University, University of Bologna), the UK (SOAS, Erasmus) and China (University of Hong Kong, CUPL). After receiving her PhD in 2016 at the University of Hong Kong, she held a Max Weber Fellowship at the European University Institute of Florence (2015-17) and was a Global Hauser Fellow at the New York University Law School (2016-17) and a visiting scholar at Columbia University (2017).

Her thesis “A Genealogy of Sovereignty in Modern China, 1840 - present” looks at how Chinese intellectuals, political figures and diplomats articulated the notion of sovereignty in their foreign policy during the period in question. The study, currently under peer review with Cambridge University Press for publication, reveals how China, in deviating from the teleology imposed by the West and actively appropriating and manipulating Western international legal norms, has emerged as a key actor in the globalization of international law.

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.

For more information on Maria Adele’s research see:



“Learning Western techniques of empire: Republican China and the new legal framework for managing Tibet,” selected for publication in the Leiden Journal of International Law (forthcoming 2017).

“Global constitutionalism and Chinese exceptionalism,” European University Institute Working Papers (2016)

“China’s Unilateral Abrogation of the Sino-Belgian Treaty: A Case Study of a Deviant Transplantation,” in Michael Ng and Zhao Yun ed., Chinese Legal Reform and the Global Legal Order: Adoption and Adaptation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

“Il riconoscimento del Market Economy Status alla Cina e l’interpretazione dell’Art. 15 del Protocollo di Accesso: sfide e possibilità per l’Unione Europea,” in Osservatorio Costituzionale AIC (Associazione italiana dei costituzionalisti) (October 2016)

“Current Chinese approaches to a global history of international law,” in Storica 64, XXII (2016)

“Asian Values,” in Andreas Joh. Wiesand, Kalliopi Chainoglou and Anna Śledzińska-Simon ed., Culture and Human Rights, The Wroclaw Commentaries (Berlin: De Gruyter Publishers, 2016).

“Yijie ‘quanwei’: zai ‘zhuquan’ yu ‘tianxia’ zhong xunqiu gong du xing, 译介「权威」:在「主权」与「天下」中寻求公度性,” in Zhengzhi sixiang shi《政治思想史》7, 2 (2016).

 “Which humanity? From cultural to racial ethnocentrism: Chinese perspective on universal history on the threshold of the 20th century,” in Greg Melleuish ed., Universal History, Philosophical History, and the Fate of Humanity (forthcoming New York: Telos Press ebook, 2019).

“Translating authority: In search of commensurability between Tianxia world order and Western sovereignty” in Lawrence Wang-chi Wong ed., Translation and Modernization in East Asia in the 19th and Early 20th Century, Asian Translation Traditions series (Hong Kong: Research Centre for Translation and the Chinese University Press, 2016).

“Zhongguoshi ziranfa: lun lizuowei ziranfa duiyingti de juxian,中国式自然法:论“礼”作为自然法对应体的局限” [Chinese natural law: On the limits of the association of li to natural law] translated by Qu Wensheng and Wang Jiali, in Qu Wensheng ed., Legal Translation and Legal Transplantation (Beijing: China Law Press, 2014).

“Diritto naturale in Cina. Limiti e aporie dell’associazione al li,” in L’Ircocervo. Rivista elettronica italiana di metodologia giuridica, teoria generale del diritto e dottrina dello stato, 1 (2011).


Work in progress:

A genealogy of the concept of sovereignty in China, 1840-present, (Under review, Cambridge University Press)

 “Financing the OBOR: Is China really challenging the Bretton Woods institutions?”, (selected for forthcoming in TDM special issue on China’s One Belt, One Road: Economic Changes, Power Shifts and Prospects/Consequences for the World Arbitration)

“The pedagogy of imperial legalism: The American lessons to foreign educated Chinese that went wrong” (forthcoming 2018)

Person category: