skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr Maja Spanu

Dr Maja Spanu

Junior Research Fellow

Co-convener of the International Relations & History Working Group

Homerton College


Dr. Maja Spanu is a Junior Research Fellow in International Relations. She is the organiser and co-convener of the Cambridge-based International Relations & History Working Group and regularly organises workshops and conferences. She also collaborates on the ERC-project ‘Individualisation of War’ at the European University Insititute, Italy.  


Before joining Cambridge Maja worked as a research fellow at the European University Institute while teaching at Sciences Po, France. Maja holds a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from the European University Institute, where she also obtained a Masters of Research in Political Science. She also holds a Master’s Double Degree (MRes and MA) from Sciences Po in International Relations and Political Science. Previous to that, Maja studied literature and humanities in Paris.


Maja's areas of expertise are International Relations; Self-determination and state formation; Balkans; Global hierarchies and decolonisation; Nationalism and citizenship; Human and minority rights; 20th century international history; War and war crimes


Maja speaks Italian, French (bilingual); English, Serbo-Croatian (fluent); Spanish (near-fluency); Portuguese (intermediate)

Research Interests

Maja is currently working on her first book project, offering a re-reading of the history of self-determination over the twentieth century. Throughout the past century, commentators, political actors and academics have seen the principle of self-determination as constituting -potentially or in fact- an equalitarian post imperial international system through sovereign equality. In her book Maja argues that self-determination is in fact bound up with hierarchy. She thus reveals the existence of a tension between the equalitarian aspiration of self determination and practices attached to its realization that create hierarchies between older and newer states as well as within the latter in the way national political communities are organised. Her manuscript examines the three major 20th century waves of state formation after empire: after World War I, in the post-World War II decolonization years, and with the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

She is also the recipient of an Arts and Humanities Impact Fund Grant for her new research and documentary project exploring the lives and experiences of children of individuals convicted of war crimes by international tribunals.

Maja is also the co-editor of a new major Oxford Handbook of History and International Relations planned to be published in 2020.

Within the framework of the new Cambridge-Sciences Po agreement, she is the co-investigator of a joint-project with Dr. Hugo Meijer (Sciences Po) on research methods in International Relations and History.

Maja concurrently writes academic articles and publishes online for public medias and blogs. She is the Executive Director of ARTIJ, a new initiative bringing together Art with International Justice that she is developing with international lawyer Marina Aksenova (IE Madrid).


Maja supervises on ‘International Conflict, Order and Justice’ (POL2) and lectures on ‘International Organizations’ (POL3).