Doctor Jack Tsonis

Doctor Jack Tsonis

Casual HDR Literacy Support Officer,
Graduate Research School

Graduate Research School


Jack Tsonis has worked with the Graduate Research School since 2015 as a lecturer in the Master of Research (MRes), and coordinates the degree’s three core units with Dr Alex Norman. Jack is is dedicated to high quality learning and teaching, and along with Dr Norman has developed the MRes into a world-class research training degree. Jack is committed to the field of postgraduate education, and believes strongly in treating HDR students as colleagues at the start of their journey of professional development.

Jack is also the founder of the Sauna Studies @ Western Sydney research group, which is launching a new research agenda in Australia to investigate the health and social benefits of sauna (and other types of thermic bathing). Sauna is anecdotally known to be an extremely healthy technology, and such health claims are increasingly being supported by modern science. In addition to working with leaders in this field such as Jari Laukkanen, Jack is spearheading efforts to grow both academic knowledge and public awareness about the role of sauna as a wellness technology in the twenty-first century. Jack is particularly interested in social-scientific investigations of sauna, as this area is not as well established as health research. See Tsonis (2016) for more information about the field of Sauna Studies.

Jack is also founder and president of ASBA, the Australian Sweat Bathing Association (est. 2016), a non-for-profit organisation designed to address the lack of sauna culture in Australia and to promote the practice more widely. ASBA is Australia's representative in the International Sauna Association (est. 1956), and is currently seeking Foundation Members. ASBA's motto is "Promoting Happy and Healthy Communities". For more information, please visit   

Jack studied at Macquarie University, obtaining a Bachelor of Ancient History (Hons) in 2008 and a PhD in 2013. His dissertation combined perspectives from postcolonial theory, global history, evolutionary studies, sociology, science and technology studies, and the academic study of religion. For a while, he planned to turn his PhD into a book: namely a critical analysis of Western theories of social evolution from 1500 to the twenty-first century, with a particular focus on the contemporary "Axial Age" narrative of religious history. This plan is still in the dream queue. The whole thing got interrupted by the Sauna Studies agenda in 2015, when seeds first planted in Finland in 2007 finally came to fruition. For the long version of the story, see Tsonis (2018).

In addition to Sauna Studies, Jack has a variety of research interests, including but not limited to: human evolution; the cultural history of technology; discourse analysis; religious studies; historical theory; media theory; political theory; neoliberalism; democracy; gender studies; public health; food politics; sociology; psychology; humour studies; 'pataphysics; and the life and times of Rudi Konstanz.

Jack's proudest non-academic achievement is breaking the Guinness World Record for the World's Longest Handshake in 2009.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Tsonis.


  • PhD Macquarie University

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Sweat Bathing Association (President) (2016 - 2021)
  • Australian Historical Association (2013)
  • American Academy of Religion (2011)


  • Macquarie Ancient History Association Prize for Best Honours Thesis 2008 2008-11-17


  • Sauna Studies
  • Critical Theory of Religion
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Learning and Teaching
  • The cultural history of technology

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Graduate Research School
  • Graduate Research School


  • School Academic Committee (SAC), Graduate Research School
  • School Academic Committee (SAC), Graduate Research School


Phone: (02) 9685 9720
Mobile: 0412414476
Location: ED.G.16
ParramattaPenrith (Werrington South)

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 100958 Australia and the World, 2013
  • 100960 Contemporary Society, 2014
  • 101359 Sociology of Religion, 2013
  • 101359 Sociology of Religion, 2015
  • 101557 The Individual in Society, 2015
  • 101992 Religion and the Emergence of Modern Politics, 2014
  • 102000 Modern European History and Politics, 2013
  • 102000 Modern European History and Politics, 2014
  • 102001 Theories and Methods of History, 2014
  • 800166 Research Design 1: Theories of Enquiry, 2015
  • 800166 Research Design 1: Theories of Enquiry, 2016
  • 800167 Research Literacies, 2015
  • 800167 Research Literacies, 2016
  • 800168 Research Fields, 2016
  • 800169 Research Design 2: Practices of Research, 2016
  • SS101A Understanding Society, 2013
  • SS101A Understanding Society, 2015


Chapters in Books

  • Tsonis, J. (2017), 'Against 'indigenous religions' : a problematic category that reinforces the world religions paradigm', Religious Categories and the Construction of the Indigenous, Brill 9789004324411.

Journal Articles

  • Sarris, J., de Manincor, M., Hargraves, F. and Tsonis, J. (2019), 'Harnessing the four elements for mental health', Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol 10 .
  • Tsonis, J. (2018), '"Another city, another sauna" : travel as Saunatarian praxis', Fieldwork in Religion, vol 13, no 1 , pp 81 - 106.
  • Tsonis, J. (2016), 'Sauna Studies as an academic field : a new agenda for international research', Literature & Aesthetics, vol 26 , pp 41 - 82.
  • Tsonis, J. (2014), 'The deep history of ritual and mythology : new terrain in the study of religion', Journal of Religious History, vol 38, no 1 , pp 115 - 131.
  • Haag, I., Llewelyn, S. and Tsonis, J. (2012), 'Ezekiel 16 and its use of allegory and the disclosure-of-abomination formula', Vetus Testamentum, vol 62, no 2 , pp 198 - 210.

Western Sydney University

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