School of Social and Political Science

Aerin Lai

Job Title

PhD student

Aerin Lai's photo

City (Address)


Country (Address)



PhD research

My research focuses on the production of masculinity in Singapore through an intersectional and postcolonial perspective. It aims to answer the following questions:

  1. How does the state frame and shape Singaporean masculinity?
    1. How do Singaporean men understand and construct masculinity in relation to race, class and sexuality?
    2. How does postcolonialism in Singapore inform the discursive production of Singaporean masculinity?
  2. How can we expand on intersectional frameworks to understand the interrelationship between ‘local’ masculinities and historical and geopolitical transnational processes?

For my Masters, I explored the embodiment of Japanese masculinity by conducting interviews and body-mapping with Japanese men. Building on my Masters thesis, I aim to study masculinity in Singapore for my PhD project, delving deeper into how Singaporean men talk about how they become men in relation to significant life-events (for e.g. marriage, family, military service etc).


Prof. Mary Holmes and Dr. Radhika Govinda

Honours and awards

Tan Ean Kiam Postgraduate Scholarship, August 2021

Awarded by the Tan Kah Kee Foundation (Singapore) for PhD research and outstanding community service.

Tweedie Research Fellowship, March to August 2021

Award for conducting fieldwork in Singapore for PhD project.

Mizuho International Foundation Scholarship, October 2017 to March 2019

Monthly stipend provided for duration of master’s program at Ochanomizu University. Selected as 1 out of 14 awardees in Japan.

Ochanomizu University Tuition Waiver, April 2017 to March 2019

Merit-based tuition waiver renewed every semester depending on academic achievements and recommendations from academic supervisor.

Shibuzawa Ethnology Promotion Fund Travel Grant, July 2017

Presented paper titled, “Clan Associations in Singapore and Hindrances to Revitalization” at Inter-Asia Cultural Studies conference, Seoul, South Korea.


Lai, Aerin. 2021. "Nomadland The blurred lines between nationalistic and ethnic identities in Singapore." The Sociological Review, October 15.

---. 2020. Review of Decolonizing Universalism: A Transnational Feminist Ethic by Serene J. Khader. LSE Review of Books. Retrieved April 24, 2020.

---. 2020. "The Hypervisibility of Chinese Bodies in Times of Covid-19 And What It Says About Being British.Discover Society, April 12.

---. “Docile BL Bodies – Boys Love under State and Societal Censorship in Singapore” in James Welker, ed. Queer Transfigurations: Boys Love Media in Asia. HI: University of Hawai’i Press (forthcoming).

Keywords: embodiment; sexuality; censorship; state-society relations; Singapore; Japanese subculture

---. “A Study of the Fudanshi Identity in Singapore” in Kaori Fushiki and Ryoko Sakurada, eds. Anthropology Through the Experience of the Physical Body. India: Manohar Publishers and Distributors. (Forthcoming)

Keywords: embodiment; sexuality; identity; Japanese subculture; Singapore

Articles/blog posts

Lai, Aerin. 2020. "The Phenomenology of a Global Pandemic." Edinburgh Decameron: Lockdown Sociology at Work.

A short reflection on the embodied experiences of time and space during lockdown in Covid-19 and the importance of understanding 'felt' time and space in the construction of identity and the process of making sense of our social realities.

Conference presentations

"Thinking in the Dire Straits: Creolised Chinese Philosophy in the Straits Philosophical Society” Doing Theory in Southeast Asia, Centre for Cultural Studies and MA in Intercultural Studies Program, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). May 2021. (Co-presented with Dr Lilith Lee, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore).

"Masculine body-making in Japan: the production of embodied masculine identities through dieting and exercise among young Japanese men," British Sociological Association Annual Conference, "Reimagining Social Bodies: Self, Institutions and Societies". Birmingham, United Kingdom. April 2020. (CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC)

Keywords: masculinity; embodiment; japanese studies; identities

“Clan Associations in Singapore and Hindrances to Revitalization”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies International Conference, “Worlding: Asia Beyond / After Globalization”. Seoul, South Korea. July 2017.

Keywords: heritage; Chineseness; Singapore

“Bodily Myths and Rottenness of Fudanshi”, Cultural Typhoon Europe. Vienna, Austria. September 2016.

Keywords: embodiment; sexuality; Singapore; Boys Love; Japanese subculture

Teaching experience

Guest Lectures

  • 'What have masculinities to do with feminism?' Contemporary Feminist Debates (AY2021/22)
  • 'Queer Studies through a Postcolonial / Decolonial Lens' Introduction to Queer Studies (AY2020/21)


  • Key Concepts in Global Social Change, Sociology (Postgraduate)
  • Empires, Social Anthropology
  • Introduction to Queer Studies, Edinburgh College of Art
  • Designing and Doing Social Research, Sociology
  • Social Anthropology 1A: The Life Course, Social Anthropology

Research interests

Research interests

Feminism, Decolonisation, Embodiment, Sociology of Gender, Gender and Sexuality, Masculinities

Works within