Maria Adele Carrai

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 shapes norms and redefines the international distribution of power. She co-leads the Research Initiative 'Mapping Global China,' and is the author of Sovereignty in China. A Geneology of a Concept since 1840 (CUP 2019) and co-editor of The China Questions 2 - Critical Insights into US-China Relations (HUP 2022). Before 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.

Select Publications

  • Sovereignty in China. A Genealogy of a Concept since 1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • The China Questions 2 - Critical Insights into US-China Relations, edited with Jennifer Rudolph & Michael Szonyi (Harvard University Press, 2022)
  • 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