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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Hsinyen Lai

Hsinyen Lai
Hsinyen Lai
Politics and International Relations School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Historical sociology, Gramsci and Marxist Theory, ideas and foreign policy, International Relations of the Middle East, the Gulf Arab states, the Arab Left, nationalism and capitalism, China's Middle Eastern policy


PhD, Politics (University of Edinburgh)

MRes, Politics (University of Edinburgh)

MA, Political Science with major in International Relations (National Chung-Cheng University, Taiwan)

BA, Arabic Language and Literature (National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan)


Dr Ewan Stein and Professor Juliet Kaarbo


Hsinyen was born and raised in Taiwan. Before his MRes (2013) in Politics at Edinburgh, he completed his BA in Arabic at National Cheng-Chi University (2007) and MA in Political Science at National Chung-Cheng University (2010), Taiwan. His research interests mainly lie at the intersection of historical sociology and international relations of the Middle East. He was awarded a PhD with his thesis, entitled 'The Social Drivers of International Relations in the Gulf: Gramsci on the Case of Bahrain and Gulf Alignment 1971-1981', in September 2018. Taking historical sociology, his doctoral research revisited the relationship between ideology and foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly that between Arab nationalism and state regional policy on alignment in the Gulf. It seeks to answer the question: What explains Arab nationalism in Gulf politics and its interplay with a Gulf Arab state’s policy toward regional alignment in the independence phase?  The research developed a reformulated Gramscian theoretical framework and argued that internal socio-political dynamics mediate the interplay of ideology and a state’s regional policy. It further argued that the formation and evolution of Arab nationalism in international relations of the Gulf is best understood beyond norms and identities, and examined under more historical and sociological scrutiny − taking both colonial history and the process of capitalist formation into consideration.                             

In January 2019, Hsinyen joined the School of International Relations, University of St Andrews, as Associate Lecturer.