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Alessandra Cappelletti


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Research activity per year

Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a researcher working at the intersection of sociology and political sciences. In my publications, I explore dynamics of collective memory, remembrance, alternative identities and narrative shaping. What I investigate is how diversity is conceptualised and understood in different contexts, across multiple cognitive environments, and how its management is linked with notions of power and space. I am an ethnographer specialized in Grounded Theory and capability approach, which I adopt to look at how diversity and development intersect with political dynamics. My expertise revolves around Chinese society and politics and the issues of diversity and ‘otherness’, focusing on Islamic communities and especially Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I mainly explore policies and actions put in place by national and local governments to dilute identities of integrate religious and cultural minorities. China’s attitude to diversity and ‘otherness’ is reflected in its foreign policy and projection to other contexts through the Belt and Road Initiative and other schemes. I look at how domestic targets and narratives are translated into foreign policy actions and discourses, with an effort to conceptualize the dimensions and criteria in projecting a country’s image abroad. I welcome students who would like to engage in Ph.D. research in any of the following areas: Chinese society with a focus on identity and marginality; Chinas cultural diplomacy and Belt and Road Initiative; Chinas periphery; policy processes in socio-economic development; Islam in China.

Research interests

Development dynamics and capability approach

Memories and communities

National minorities and public policies

China’s soft power and cultural diplomacy

History and society of Islamic communities in China

Sociology of renarration


Head of Department, 1st September 2021 - ongoing

Interim Head of Department, 1st July 2021 - 31st August 2021

Senior Research Fellow at the Research Center on Contemporary China (, Italy (since Mar. 2015)

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at XIPU Institution, XJTLU (since 2019)

PhD Principal Supervisor - ResearchProject: The influence of Covid-19 Pandemic on the Chinese Healthcare System and citizens’ behaviour: an Historical Institutionalist approach, PhD candidate: Alessia Orazzo, September 2023 enrollment, Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China

PhD Principal Supervisor - ResearchProject: European digital public diplomacy in China. A Foucauldian approach, PhD candidate: Xiangdong Chen, September 2022-ongoing, Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China

PhD Principal Supervisor - ResearchProject: African students as a source of China’s increased soft power: expectations vs realities, PhD candidate: Jianping Ge, March 2021-ongoing, Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China

Principal supervisor for MA and BA dissertations in the field on China/Asia and International Relations

Member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Italian Academics in China, Nov. 2020 - ongoing

Principal supervisor for the Master (MSc) dissertation, Capstone Consultancy Project Report, The Impact of Pakistani Stakeholders on China Pakistan Economic Corridor A stakeholders’ analysis based on the salience model, student: Zubair Shah Hussein, Degree of Master in Project Management, International Business School Suzhou XJTLU, January 2020, grade: 76 with merit

Voluntary Teacher for the group English Teachers for Hubei

Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, XJTLU, from August 2018

Associate Professor and Policy Analyst, XIPU Institution, XJTLU, January-August 2018

Scientific Coordinator, Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia, China Center, Turin Polytechnic University, 2017-2019

Member of the Board of Directors and Senior Researcher, Centro Studi sulla Cina Contemporanea (Research Centre on Contemporary China), 2016 to present

Visiting Research Fellow, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik - SWP (German Institute for International and Security Affairs), 1st June-30th November 2017

Joint Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of East Asian Studies - IN-EAST and Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation (CGR21), University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), October 2016 – March 2017

Adjunct Professor, International Relations of East Asia, American University of Rome, 2013 – 2016

Teaching assistant, International Relations with specialization on China, University LUISS Guido Carli, March 2014 – September 2014

Co-founder and contributor,, 2014 - ongoing

Scientific Coordinator, monthly publications and reports on Chinese economy and China-Italy economic relations for the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, 2015-2017

Member of the Scientific Committee, International Summer School Understanding Global China - Economy, Innovation, Opportunities, Summer 2017

Member of AISC, Italian Association of Chinese Studies; Chinese Economic Association - CEA, UK; Nordic Association for China Studies (NACS)

China expert and input panelist at the conference: “Futures of Cooperation”, Panel IV: Global Cooperation and Competing Conceptions of World Order, Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (CGR21), Duisburg, November 2017

China expert and discussant, conference The DAC and Development Co-operation Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (CGR21) – Duisburg, May 2017

Foreign expert, Commission for the evaluation of the research projects, Minor in Area and Cultural Studies – College of Humanities – Centre for Area and Cultural Studies (CACS), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, May 2013

Professor of Journalistic Chinese, Confucius Institute University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Sept. 2014 – June 2016

Co-organiser and lecturer, Interdisciplinary and inter-faculty seminar “Metropolis in Asia”, University of Naples LOrientale, May-June 2014

Lecturer, seminar on “Ethnic identity and borders: Socio-economic Changes in Peripheral China”, Degree in Project Management of Tourism Systems, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 20 Nov. 2013- 4 Dec. 2013

Contributor for the Dazhalan Project with articles on the Dazhalan district in Beijing and the Sulukule area in Istanbul, published in Urban China, no. 26, 2008 Beijing (project coordinated by the Chinese artist Ou Ning who directed the independent documentary Meishi Street)


INS305 Country Study (BA, Y2)

INS404 China in the World (MA)

INS308 Public Policy and Cultural Diplomacy (BA, Y4)

INS301 Semester of International Experience (BA, Y4)

INS101 Contemporary International Relations (BA, Y2)

Semester of International Experience

Contemporary International Relations

Research Methods for Country Study

Public Policy and Cultural Diplomacy

Chinas foreign policy

International Relations of East Asia

Current Issues in Global Affairs

Journalistic Chinese

Chinese Language (advanced)

Awards and honours

Member of the Advisory Board of the journal Asia-Pacyfic, Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, 2023-ongoing

Member of the Inter-university Center for Comparative Area Studies: Asia, Africa, Latin America (ASAFAL), 2018-ongoing

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy, University of Liverpool, Oct. 2019

PhD, Eastern and Southern Asian Studies and Law with Specialization in Ethno-Sociology (dual degree), Oriental University of Naples and Minzu University of China, 2013

Postgraduate Specialization Program, Diplomatic and International Studies, University of Padua, 2002

BA, MA, Oriental Languages and Literatures (major in Classical Chinese) - University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari”, 2001

Person Types

  • Staff


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