Sini-Petriina Kuusisto


School of East Asian Studies

Research Student

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Sini-Petriina Kuusisto
School of East Asian Studies
  • BA Korean Studies with Japanese, University of Sheffield
  • MA Social Research, University of Sheffield
Research interests

Thesis Title: Queering Stigma: HIV/AIDS Activism and Community in Seoul

Academic Supervisors: Dr. Mark Pendleton

South Korea has one of the highest levels of stigmatisation against people living with HIV (PLHIV) within the OECD.

According to the latest research, 88,1% of Koreans would not like PLHIV to live in their neighbourhood, while up to 49.9% would not care for a family member diagnosed with HIV.

Simultaneously South Korea lacks any comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation which not only enables hospitals to regularly turn away PLHIVs seeking health care, but also allows PLHIVs to be dismissed from employment.

This project, grounded in 17 months of ethnographic participatory action research in Seoul with the Korean Youth PLHIV Community 'R', investigates how the younger generation of Korean HIV/AIDS activists queer stigma, by complicating the one-dimensional narratives promoted in the Korean media and society.

In this context, queering refers to the conscious process of deconstructing existing taxonomies, structures and practices.

The project studies the multiple tactics in which the Korean activists queer stigma, and how the acts of queering contribute to the production of a community that functions as a resource and as a support network for young Korean PLHIVs.

The overarching aim of the project is to generate new frameworks and techniques to combatting HIV/AIDS-related stigma.


"Gay Korea: homophobia sparked by Seoul coronavirus cluster driven by Protestant right" for The Conversation, May 15, 2020

Kuusisto, S. (2018) Government policies fuel South Korea’s HIV epidemic. East Asia Forum. [online]

Book review

  • Kuusisto, S. (2017) Base Encounters: The US Armed Forces in South Korea. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 3, Pages: 286-288.
Teaching activities
  • EAS250 Modern Japanese History (Spring 2016-17)
  • EAS6208 Media, Culture and Society in East Asia (Fall, 2017)
Professional activities and memberships
  • University of Sheffield White Rose ESRC DTC 1+3 Discipline Scholarship Award 2015-2020
  • Academy of Korea Studies 한국학중앙연구원 Graduate Fellow, 2018
  • Academy of Korea Studies 한국학중앙연구원 Research Fellow, May - August 2019