Sofia Graziani

Associate professor

Department of Humanities

Via Tommaso Gar, 14 - 38122 Trento
tel. 0461 282988
sofia.graziani[at]unitn [dot] it

• Ph.D. in East Asian History and Civilization, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy (2009)

• M.A. in Asian Studies, Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, Sweden (2006)

• B.A. hons. (Laurea V.O.) in Oriental Languages and Civilization (Chinese language, history track), Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy (2003).

Academic career and teaching activities

2019- Associate professor, China studies, University of Trento, Department of humanities and School of international studies 

2016-2019 Assistant professor (tenure-track), China Studies, University of Trento, Department of Humanities

2013-2016 Fixed-term researcher (Ricercatore T.D.a), China Studies, University of Bologna

2012-2013 Post-doc fellow, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Taiwan)

2012 Ca' Foscari University, Research Fellowship (June 2012) [she renounced]


Teaching activity:

Since 2020-2021  University of Trento, School of International Studies. Courses taught (in English) “China and the World from the Cold War Years to the Global Era (1949-2020)” (now renamed “China and the world from the Cold War years to the present”) within the Master Programme in European and International Studies. 

Since 2017 - University of Trento, Department of Humanities. Courses taught: “History of Modern and Contemporary China”, "Chinese language and culture" and “Chinese history and culture”. 

- a.y. 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM, Rome. Course taught: History and Institutions of China (L-OR/23) within the Master in Oriental Language and Cultures (Master MiLCO)

- a.y. 2013-2014 and 2014-2015: University of Bologna. Department of modern language, literature and cultures. Seminars held within the course of “Sociology of Asian Countries” (responsible: prof. Antonella Ceccagno): "Memoria storica e nazionalismo nel contesto dei rapporti sinogiapponesi", "Migrazione interna e genere nella Rpc" and “Il soft power cinese in ambito regionale”, “Cina e Giappone tra nazionalismo e instabilità”. 

-a.y. 2014-2015: University of Bologna. Department of modern language, literature and cultures. Seminars held within the master level course of Chinese Language: “Le fonti documentarie della storia contemporanea cinese: i documenti del partito comunista e del governo cinese”, “la Cina e il resto del mondo: il linguaggio della politica estera cinese - lessico e formulazioni ideologiche” 

-a.y. 2011-2013: Adjunct lecturer (professore a contratto) at Università degli Studi RomaTre

◦ undergraduate: “History of East and South-East Asia” (L-OR/23)

-a.y. 2011-2013: Adjunct lecturer at the University For Foreigners of Siena

◦ postgraduate: “History and Institutions of Contemporary China” (SPS/14)

2011 (Fall semester 9-12): Visiting Professor at Peking University, History Department. Course taught (in English): “China in Transformation”, undergraduate course on Modern Chinese History held within the framework of the Beijing Program for American University

a.y. 2010-2011: Adjunct lecturer at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Dep. of East Asian Studies. Courses taught at the undergraduate level: “History of China”. 

2007: University of Rome La Sapienza, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Tutorial activities 



Research interests

History and politics of contemporary China; the Chinese communist party and youth; the Chinese Communist youth league; China-Italy/Europe relations; China-Africa engagements; China's diplomacy and soft power strategy; youth and international relations; Mao's China. 

Her research focuses on the history and politics of contemporary China with a specific interest in the Chinese communist party's management of youth and the role played by  CCP-led youth organisations both at the domestic level and from a historical transnational perspective. Furthermore, she has worked on China-Italy relations during the Cold War years as well as on Chinese people to people diplomacy and global soft power strategies, with particular attention to the “going out” of youth volunteering programs and the instrumental use of historical memory of China-Africa relations by Chinese élite. 

Her current book project addresses the nexus between youth, people diplomacy and transnational networks through an analysis of the Communist Youth League's work from a global and transnational historical perspective. 

Her works have appeared in various academic journals, such as Modern Asian Studies, Twentieth- Century China, The Journal of East Asian Studies, The Journal of the European Association of Chinese Studies. 

Prior to joining the University of Trento, she won the CCK Foundation's postdoctoral fellowship (2012-2013), held a three-year research position at the University of Bologna (2013-2016) and taught courses of History of Modern China/East Asia at various Italian universities as well as at Peking University. 





Research work

- The BRI and the impact of pandemic on China's international projection  BRI (interdisciplinary research project, funded by the University of Trento), scientific coordinator (2021-2022)

•“Society, nationalism and soft power in China: towards new paradigms”, University of Bologna (2013-2016 ).

• “Relations between Italy and the Two Chinas during the Cold War: The case of youth movements and organizations (1954-1970)” project funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Taipei, Taiwan) (2012-2013).

•Member of the Research Project on "Italy, Europe, China. Economic, political, and cultural relations in the Cold War years (1954-1971)" funded by Ca' Foscari University (2011-2014; Director Prof. Guido Samarani)

Academic and research activity abroad: 

 ◦ Shanghai University, College of Liberal Arts, Shanghai (May 2018)

◦ East China Normal University, Center for Cold War International History Studies, Shanghai (April-May 2015) 

◦  Washington, DC.  Library of Congress (April 2014)

◦ Taipei, Taiwan ROC. Academia Sinica, Department of Modern History (March-May 2013)

• Beijing PRC, Beijing National Library and Beijing Municipal Archives (July 2012 and May 2013)

◦ Peking University, School of International Studies, Beijing (April-September 2011)

◦ Harvard University, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies (Cambridge, MA)  (July-September 2007) .

◦ China Youth University for Political Sciences, Beijing (September 2006- February 2007)

◦  Beijing Foreign Studies University, Research Center of Overseas Sinology, Beijing (April-June 2006)

• Fudan University, Nordic Centre,  Shanghai ( September 2005)

• University of Heidelberg, Institute of Chinese Studies (May 2005) 


Memberships in societies and scientific committees

AISC – Italian Associan of Chinese Studies since 2005  (Member of the Executive Board from 2019 to 2023) 

EACS – European Association for Chinese Studies, since 2005

SISSCO – Società Italiana per lo Studio della Storia Contemporanea, since 2007

AAS – Association for Asian Studies, since 2013

SISI - Italian Society for International History, since 2014.

Awards and honours

 • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Taiwan), Postdoc Fellowship (2012-13)

• Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR), Sciences and Arts Fellowship China (SAF/CHINA) (2011)

• University of Rome La Sapienza PhD Fellowship (2005-08).

• European Association of Chinese Studies - Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation or International Scholarly Exchange, Library Travel Grant (May 2005)

Conferences and lectures

Talks and presentations in English (selection 2014-2023) 

25-27/10/2023 “Youth Exchanges, Transnational Networks and Sino-African Relations in the Early Cold War Years”, International Conference A World Without Empire? Encounters and connections between African, European, and Soviet Communists, 1920s to 1970s, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa (invited). 

26/06/2023  冷战年代意大利共产党与中国的交流 (The Italian Communist Party and Mao's China in the Cold War years), East China Normal University, History Department, Shanghai (invited)  

10-11/11/2022: “Historical Narratives as a Tool of China’s Diplomacy Towards Africa”, International Conference The COVID-19 Pandemic and China’s Global Projection, Università di Trento.

5/12/2019  "Youth in modern Chinese politics: discursive practices and political organizing in the early twentieth century (1919-1922)", Internationl Workshop, 1919-1949: The Birth of Modern China, Zhejiang University, Centre for Chiang Kai-shek and Modern Chinese History and Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Asian and North African Studies, Venice (invited). 

 9/10/2019  "The Role of Trade Unions in Sino-Italian contacts in the early Cold War: Some Preliminary Findings", International Workshop Western Europe and China in the Cold War: The Rapprochement between Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany and the PRC in a Global Context, Università ca' Foscari Venezia, Dipartimento di Studi sull'Asia e sull'Africa Mediterranea, Venice (invited).

3-4/10/2019 "The role of youth and youth groups in China’s people diplomacy and global outreach: a historical perspective",  Trento-Shanghai University Joint International Workshop on "Chinese youth under socialism from Mao to Xi: experiences, images and literary representations", Central University Library, Trento University, Trento.

18-22/10/2018 -  "Youth and the search for modern China: discoursive practices and political organizing in the early twentieth century" , Shanghai University-Ghent University Joint Workshop on '欧战与中国的新文化 The Relationship between the First World War and China's New Culture Movement', Shanghai University, Shanghai (invited)

29-08/1-09/2018  "Re-orienting the Communist Youth League’s approaches and patterns of work: initiatives and debates in a long-term perspective" within the panel "Reappraising the Communist Youth League: Professionalization, Responsiveness and Social Work" (coordinated by Konstantinos Tsimonis). XXII Conference of the European Association of Chinese Studies, Glasgow University, Scotland.

17/05/2018 -  "Youth Groups, Transnational Networks and Sino-European Interactions in the Early Cold War", talk at the Shanghai University, College of Liberal Arts, Shanghai (invited)

18-19/11/2016  “China-Italy unofficial relations in the 1950s: the Role of the Communist Youth League International Liaison Department” , Conference on “The Smaller European Powers and China in the Cold War, 1949-1989”, University of Lausanne. 

23-26/07/2014 "Italian and Chinese communists in the 1950s: the case of youth contacts and exchanges", XX Conference of the European Association of Chinese Studies, Braga/Coimbra (Portugal). 

27-30/03/2014 "Reassessing CCP's Conception of 'Youth Work' in the Early Reform Period (1978-1980)", Association for Asian Studies 2014 Annual Conference, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). 

13-14/02/2014 "The Communist Party of Italy and People's China: Political ties and exchanges (1949-1965)" (with Guido Samarani), International Workshop on "Italy, Europe, China: Economic, Political and Cultural Relations during the Cold War Years (1949-1971)", Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Dipartimento di Studi sull'Asia e sull'Africa Mediterranea. 


Other work

Appointments AT UNITN (2017-2019):

- Member of the executive board of Centro Studi Martino Martini, University of Trento (since 2017)

- Member of the Joint Committee Teachers-Students (Commissione Paritetica Docenti-Studenti) – Department of Humanities University of Trento (since Dec. 2019)

- Collaborator of the Director for assigning students’ travel grants at the Department of Humanities, University of Trento (since 2018).  

- Academic supervisor at the Department of Humanities (Trento University) for incoming students from Chinese universities (since 2018)

- Contact person for bilateral agreements between the Department of Humanities at the University of Trento and the following Chinese universities: Shanghai International Studies Universities, Shanghai University, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang International Studies Universities (since 2017)


Selected publications (in English and Chinese) 2014-2023

(2023) (edited by, with Laura De Giorgi), The Historian’s Gaze Essays on Modern and Contemporary China in Honour of Guido Samarani. Venice: Edizioni Ca' Foscari - Venice University Press  (edited book) 

(2023) "Towards a New Political Order: Re‑Establishing the Youth League after the Sino‑Japanese War (1946‑49)" in The Historian’s Gaze Essays on Modern and Contemporary China in Honour of Guido Samarani, edited by Laura De Giorgi and Sofia Graziani. Venice: Edizioni Ca' Foscari - Venice University Press, 2023, pp. 139-153  (Book Chapter)

(2021) "Between Chinese youth and the Party: The Communist Youth League’s revival and adjustments in the early post-Mao era" in JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR CHINESE STUDIES, v. 2, (2021), p. 83-125. - URL: . - DOI: 10.25365/jeacs.2021.2.83-125

(2020) "Italians in Soviet-Sponsored International Organizations in China" in Contact Zones in China: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Merle Schatz, Laura De Giorgi and Peter Ludes, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2020, pp. 97-109. 

(2019) " Socialism and Revisionism: The Power of Words in the Ideological Controversy between the Italian Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (Late 1950s-Early 1960s)", in Words of Power, the Power of Words: the Twentieth-Century Communist Discourse in an International Perspective, edited by Giulia Bassi, Trieste, EUT, 2019, pp. 75-92 (Book Chapter) (with Guido Samarani) 

(2019), "May Fourth Youth Day from Yan'an to the Early People's Republic: The Politics of Commemoration and the Discursive Construction of Youth", in Twentieth-Century China, vol. 44, no. 2, Special Issue: A Century Later: New Readings of May Fourth, pp. 237-252 (ISSN 1940-5065)

(2019) "China's Communist Youth League, Transnational Networks and Sino-European Interactions in the Early Cold War", in Europe and China in the Cold War: Exchanges Beyond the Bloc Logic and the Sino-Soviet Split , edited by Janick Marina SchaufelbuehlMarco Wyss and Valeria Zanier, Brill, Leiden, 2019, pp. 108-133 (Book Chapter)

(2018) (eds.), Roads to Reconciliation: People's Republic of China, Western Europe and Italy  during the Cold War Period (1949-1971), Venezia: Edizioni Ca' Foscari (with Guido Samarani and Carla Meneguzzi Rostagni) online open access 

(2018), "International political activism in the '50s: the World Federation of Democratic Youth and Bruno Bernini’s encounter with Mao’s China"  in Guido Samarani, Carla Meneguzzi Rostagni, Sofia Graziani (eds.), Roads to Reconciliation: People's Republic of China, Western Europe and Italy  during the Cold War Period (1949-1971), Venezia: Edizioni Ca' Foscari, pp. 197-219.

(2017), “The case of youth exchanges and interactions between the PRC and Italy in the 1950s”, Modern Asian Studies, 51, 1, pp. 194-226. Link DOI:10.1017/S0026749X16000305

(2016), “Chinese Volunteering in Africa: Drivers, Issues, and Future Prospects”, Annali di Ca’ Foscari, Serie orientale, vol. 52, pp. 297-333 (co-author: Antonella Ceccagno) [online] ISSN 2385-3042 [print] ISSN 1125-3789  Link DOI 10.14277/2385-3042/AnnOr-52-16-11

(2015), “Editors’ Forward”, in 冷战国际史研究 [Cold War International History Studies], n. 19/20, pp. 1-3 (with Guido Samarani). 

(2015), "意大利共产党与中华人民共和国:政治联系与交流(1949-1965)" [The Communist Party of Italy and People's China: Political Ties and Exchanges (1949-1965)]", in 冷战国际史研究 [Cold War International History Studies], n. 19/20, pp. 5-29 (co-author: Guido Samarani) 

(2014), “Youth and the making of modern China: a study of the Communist Youth League's organization and strategies in   times of revolution (1920-1937)”, European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 13, n. 1, pp. 117-149 (ISSN 1568-0584) Link DOI 10.1163/15700615-01301008


2019. "The Multiple Layers of China’s Engagement in Africa", in ISPI dossier China Turns 70: Where Does It Go Now? (a cura di Alessia Amighini e Giulia Sciorati), September 27, 

2019. "The May Fourth Centenary: Binding Youth to the Nation and the Party", in ISPI dossier Political Contestation in China: Instances from the Past, Impacts on the Future (edited by Giulia Sciorati), June,