To mark International Women's Day this year we are celebrating some of the professional and academic staff who make our College a world-leading insitution for research and teaching on Asia and the Pacific.
In this piece, we chat to China studies expert, Dr Elisa Nesossi.
What inspired you to get into your field of research and why?
I have always been very curious about the idea of justice and human rights and how different cultures come to conceptualize and understand them. Having studied Chinese during my undergraduate degree, it came natural to me to combine my passion for that millenarian culture with my curiosity for justice. The more I engaged with Chinese colleagues and friends, the more I understood the complexity of the topic and the need for further research in this area.
Who is a woman in your field that you look up to?
A woman I look up to is Mary Robinson who was President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR, 1997-2002). In this latest role, she was the first UNHCHR to visit China. She is a woman of great charisma and stamina who has a great passion for human rights but can advocate calmly and with assurance.
What is a teaching/research project you are currently working on that motivates you?
I am currently working on an ARC DECRA project where I look at China’s changing conceptions of justice from the 1990s to today. In particular, I examine cases of miscarriages of justice and how these have been used by the Chinese political leaders to forge specific conception of justice. Overall, my project explains how justice, injustice and politics are inextricably interwined in contemporary China, and perhaps more broadly.
What are you most proud of?
I am particularly proud of my ability to work collaboratively with colleagues. In the last few years, I have established very solid work collaborations with senior colleagues in the fields who have become friends and mentors. Together, we have organized events and published books and papers. While collaboration sometimes impose a lot of self-reflection and an ability to accept all sorts of feedback, it is also extremely rewarding and I discover that it comes fairly natural to me.
What’s your advice to your younger self about choosing the right path and juggling life’s different demands?
My advice would be to grab every opportunity that could enrich you both as an academic and as a human being. Choose the research path that you are really passionate about and best align with your personality. Only this way, you will continue enjoying doing what you do and put your own very personal stamp on your work. But, be also ready to stop, rest, take time to reflect and eventually turn page if you feel that your motivation is faltering.