• The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Sam Han is an interdisciplinary social scientist, working primarily in the areas of social/cultural/critical theory, new media studies, religion, and East Asia (as well as their various overlaps and nodal points). He is currently Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia. He is author of (Inter)Facing Death: Living in Global Uncertainty (Routledge, 2020), Technologies of Religion: Spheres of the Sacred in a Post-Secular Modernity (Routledge, 2016), Digital Culture and Religion in Asia (Routledge, 2015)(with Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir), Web 2.0 (Routledge, 2011), Navigating Technomedia: Caught in the Web (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007) and editor (with Daniel Chaffee) of The Race of Time: A Charles Lemert Reader (Routledge, 2009).


Current projects

1. Understanding tragedy: on the importance of the concept for social science

The idea of “the tragic” has been addressed by many in literary studies and philosophy in the past and more recently. From Sophocles to Shakespeare to Nietzsche, tragedy is held up as one of the key literary forms that helps us understand the human condition. Social science has been more reluctant to address this key trope in Western thought and culture. The pioneering German sociologist Max Weber arguably incorporated tragedy as part of his vision for sociology as a “secular theodicy.” Whereas in Christian theology the question of theodicy problematized divine providence by asking how a benevolent and all-knowing God could allow for evil in the world, in a secular, modern context, theodicy would scrutinize the infinite hope of progress innate to the modern project by asking how suffering could persist within it. Tragedy was necessary to explain such incommensurability in traditional, less secular, contexts. but what about today? The gauntlet thrown by Weber has been left largely untouched by social scientists in spite of the fact that, today, “tragedy” seems to be how we name events connected to ever increasing global uncertainty—climate change, pandemics, migration crisis, political instability, just to list a few. This volume aims to bring back “tragedy” as a productive analytic in the social sciences.

2. Styling life: ethics and aesthetics in a post-secular era

This project looks at forms of contemporary self-making and identity-formation that exhibit what I am calling “post-religious” features in the attempt to understand how ethics have remained relevant in times that are (post-)secular and post-traditional. The project suggests that this has occurred through a convergence of ethics and aesthetics. How to be in the world today, in other words, is also a way of styling it. As a theoretical framework, it uses Erich Fromm’s distinction of “to be or to have,” to investigate trends in lifestyle and consumer culture that are informed by ethical and aesthetic language, especially in the realm of health (e.g., the literature and movement around self-help and self-improvement, physical fitness and food consumption), commerce (e.g., social entrepreneurship and corporate responsibility) and fashion (menswear and shoe care).

Previous positions

Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore

Division of Sociology, School of Social Sciences

Associate Professor with Tenure, April 2018-June 2018

Assistant Professor, 2012-April 2018

University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Hawke Research Institute

Affiliate Research Fellow, 2013-2018

Education/Academic qualification

Sociology, PhD, City University of New York

Award Date: 24 May 2012

Sociology (High Honors) and English, BA, Wesleyan University

Award Date: 28 May 2006

Research expertise keywords

  • Social theory
  • Religion
  • Media studies
  • East Asia
  • Death
  • Aesthetics


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