Maria Adele Carrai

Maria Adele Carrai is an Assistant Professor of Global China Studies at NYU Shanghai. Her research explores the history of international law in East Asia and investigates how China’s rise as a global power is shaping norms and redefining the international distribution of power. In light of the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, she is looking in particular at the economic, legal, and political repercussions of Chinese investments and economic engagement in Europe and Africa. Prior to joining NYU Shanghai, she was a recipient of a three-year Marie-Curie fellowship at KU Leuven. She was also a Fellow at the Italian Academy of Columbia University, Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, Max Weber Program of the European University Institute of Florence, and New York University Law School. More information can be found on her website

Select Publications
  • Sovereignty in China. A Genealogy of a Concept since 1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • The Belt and Road Initiative and Global Governance, edited with Jean-Christophe DeFraigne & Jan Wouters (Edward Elgar Publisher, 2020)
  • “The Politics of History in the late Qing Era: W.A.P. Martin and a History of International Law for China,” The Journal of the History of International Law / Revue d’histoire du droit international 22.2-3 (2020)
  • “China’s Malleable Sovereignty Along the Belt and Road Initiative: The Case of the 99-year Chinese Lease of Hambantota Port,” N.Y.U. Journal of International Law & Politics 51 (2019)
  • “It Is Not the End of History: The Financing Institutions of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Bretton Woods System,” Transnational Dispute Management 3 (2017)


  • PhD, Law
    The University of Hong Kong
  • MA, Political Science
    University of Bologna
  • MA, East Asian Studies
    Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
  • BA, Chinese Studies
    Sapienza University of Rome
Research Interests
    • International Law
    • Legal History
    • International Relations

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