Francesco Calzolaio

BA, PhD Ca’ Foscari University of Venice; PhD Université de Limoges

Francesco Calzolaio | Society of Fellows in the Humanities

Francesco Calzolaio is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. He studied Middle East Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (B.A., 2014; Ph.D., 2020) and Comparative Literature at Université de Limoges (Ph.D., 2020). Prior to his position in Hong Kong, Calzolaio held a postdoctoral research fellowship at Ca’ Foscari’s “Marco Polo” Centre for Global Europe-Asia Connections. He has conducted fieldwork throughout the Middle East, and his doctoral dissertation was awarded the “Vinci” prize by the Université de Grenoble and the University of Turin.


Calzolaio’s research explores the connected history of early modern Asia, particularly the Sino-Persian contacts and their impact on the Persianate world. His work has been published or is forthcoming in such journals as Journal of Early Modern History, Iranian Studies, Central Asiatic Journal, and Iran & the Caucasus. His first book, currently under contract with Edinburgh University Press, presents the earliest book-length study of the Chinese history by the fourteenth-century Persian scholar Rashid al-Din, which was the first history of China based on Chinese sources ever realized in the Islamic world. Calzolaio’s new research charts a cultural history of the encounter between Persianate intellectuals and the phenomenon of China from a long-durée perspective, spanning from the emergence of the Persian literary tradition in the ninth century to the end of the early modern era.

Research Interest

  • Global History of Eurasia, ca. 750-1750
  • Mongol Empire
  • Cultural and Intellectual History of the Islamicate World
  • Sino-Persian studies
  • Arabo-Persian Historiography and Geography
  • Persianate Travel Writing
  • History of Science



Writing Chinese History in Mongol Iran: Rashid al-Din’s History of the Ruling Families of Cathay, with Francesca Fiaschetti. Under contract with Edinburgh University Press.


Forthcoming “The Khan’s Great Continent: On taḥqīq and Rashīd al-Dīn’s Discovery of China”. Journal of Early Modern History.

Forthcoming “Reconstructing Babel: Rashīd al-Dīn, Chinese Writing, and the Quest for a Universal Language in Mongol Iran”, Central Asiatic Journal.

Forthcoming “Rashīd al-Dīn Faḍl Allāh Hamadānī”, in Nathalie Kouamé, Éric P. Meyer, Anne Viguier, Encyclopédie des historiographies : Afrique, Asie, Amériques, vol. 2, Paris: Presses de l’Inalco.

2022 “Traveling through an Ocean of Wonders: Muḥammad Rabīʿs Safīna-yi Sulaimānī and South-east and East Asian Geography”, Iranian Studies 55, pp. 879-897.

2021 “The Chīn-nāma by Muhammad Zamān: On a 17th-century Persian Translation of Matteo Ricci’s Description of China and Some Persianate-Italian Connections”, with Stefano Pellò, in Guido Abbattista, Global Perspectives in Modern Italian Culture: Knowledge and Representation of the World in Italy from the Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Century, New York: Routledge, pp. 146-160.

2019 “ʿAlidi in marcia lungo la via per la Cina: Le prime comunità musulmane cinesi riflesse in una leggenda del medioevo persiano”, Eurasiatica 13, pp. 163-183.

2019 “Prophets of the East: The Ilkhanid Historian Rashīd al-Dīn on the Buddha, Laozi and Confucius and the Question of his Chinese Sources (part 2)”, with Francesca Fiaschetti, Iran and the Caucasus 23/2, pp. 145-166

2019 “Prophets of the East: The Ilkhanid Historian Rashīd al-Dīn on the Buddha, Laozi and Confucius and the Question of his Chinese Sources (part 1)”, with Francesca Fiaschetti, Iran and the Caucasus 23/1, pp. 17-34

2019 “China, the Abode of Arts and Crafts: Emergence and Diffusion of a Persian Saying on China in Mongol Eurasia”, Ming Qing Yanjiu 22, pp. 136-154

2017 “A Boundless Text for a Boundless Author: The Representation of the Chinese World in Sadīd al-Dīn Muḥammad ʿAwfī’s Jawāmiʿ al-Ḥikāyāt wa Lawāmiʿ al-Riwāyāt”, Studi e Ricerche 9, pp. 109-130


  • HIST2199 The Mongol Empire in World History