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University of Bath

Members of the Centre for Death & Society

Our members are mainly located within the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, although we welcome members from across the University of Bath.

Our Centre for Death & Society (CDAS) members are all involved in research related to death and dying. We welcome anyone whose research is related in some way to human mortality.

Centre leadership

    Centre Director

    John Troyer

    John Troyer became CDAS Director in 2015. John focuses on locating and defining the concept of the dead body in relation to science and technology. His research on death and dying, coupled with his cultural studies of science and technology research, complements the work already occurring in the Centre.

    Deputy Director

    Kate Woodthorpe

    Kate Woodthorpe joined CDAS in January 2010, where she acted as Programme Leader for the Foundation Degree in Funeral Services until 2012. Kate has had articles and book chapters published on funeral costs, state support for funerals, mortuary practice, professional development, cemetery usage, the experience of researching in this area, and public dying. She is co-editor of the journal Mortality and in 2016 acted as a Special Adviser to the Government's Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry on Bereavement Benefits.


    Dominic Aitken

    Dominic is a criminologist in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences who researches the politics of criminal justice and migration control. His doctoral research examined responses to deaths in custody, including state investigations into prison suicides and broader policy efforts to make places of custody safer. He has also conducted fieldwork in immigration removal centres, with a particular focus on how staff manage self-harm and suicide risk among detained men.

    Jo Davis

    Jo completed the MSc in Death and Society at the University. She has spent the majority of her time in practice as a specialist palliative care social worker, including working with the bereaved. Jo has supported many social work students in training to experience this complex multidisciplinary area of social work practice.

    Jeremy Dixon

    Jeremy is a lecturer in social work at the University of Bath. He is a specialist in mental health issues and holds a doctorate from Cardiff University. His research focusses on the way in which people with mental health problems assess and manage their own risk. He continues to practice as a mental health practitioner.

    Chao Fang

    Chao Fang is a research associate in Department of Education and a CDAS research fellow. He completed his PhD at CDAS in 2018. He is currently working on a cross-cultural project exploring emotional loneliness of people living in retirement communities in the UK and Australia. His research interests lie in bereavement, ageing, end of life care and cross-cultural comparisons. He has been actively involved a range of collaborative projects about ageing and end of life care issues across the UK, China, Japan and Australia.

    Kate Gooch

    Kate is a criminologist and lawyer, with expertise in prisons research, criminal law and criminal justice process. Whilst her research covers a range of topics – including violence, drugs, organised/serious crime, culture and leadership in prisons – her current research focuses on prison homicide, and the experience of ageing and dying in prison. Her work primarily focuses on the experiences of young (under 18) and adult men in prison, and draws on wider themes of masculinities, disrupted lifecourse, loss, and complex grief in prison.

    George Gumisiriza

    George is studying for his MRes/PhD in International Development Studies, funded by the ESRC. He became passionate about Afrocentric perspectives into death matters during my MSc in Social and Cultural Theory (2018/19) at the University of Bristol. His area of interest is Repatriationscapes: death and body repatriation among African diaspora living in the UK. George realised that Western narratives and models of theorising death matters have pigeonholed Afrocentric deaths, grief and losses, only to feature as empirical literature due to the dominant social-cultural atmosphere in the UK. Conversely, the gap in academic literature has perpetuated power, authority, and marginalization by creating homogenized attitudes towards migrant communities in death matters in the UK.  His research aims to draw to the mainstream; foster understanding of Afrocentric perspectives on death, funerary rituals, and practices; their role within multi-cultural structures in shaping social cultural attitudes; policy, and regulations within the dominant discourse in the UK.

    Sam Hooker

    Sam is studying an MRes/PhD in Social Policy funded by the ESRC. Her research will explore the benefits and challenges of caring for a deceased person’s body at home, and the extent to which this helps (or hinders) bereaved individuals, families and communities in coming to terms with the death. She has an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science, specialising in Neuroscience and Mental Health, from Imperial College London. During her studies she became interested in interactions with the body after death and the impact it has on people. While preparing to present her dissertation on the ethics of storing human remains in museums, her grandfather died suddenly. Viewing his body at the funeral home had a profoundly different impact compared to her previous encounters with dead bodies, which led her to this new avenue of research.

    Yvonne Jewkes

    Yvonne is a criminologist and prison researcher with expertise in the architecture and design of custodial environments. Among her research interests are: the experience of ageing and dying in prison; the architecture and design of custodial spaces for elderly prisoners (including Elderly Prisoner Units and End-of-Life Care Units); managing loss, liminality and a disrupted lifecourse during long and life sentences; and complex manifestations of grief and memorialization in prisons. Her research has been featured in numerous media outlets, including newspapers, magazines and radio.

    Malcolm Johnson

    Malcolm's research and consultancy includes extensive work on the long term care of older people, theories of ageing and on assessment issues. Over the past fifteen years it has extended into end of life care and spirituality in later life.

    Ricky Kanabar

    Ricky's principal research interests are in the Economics of Ageing. Secondary interests include in Health Economics and Welfare Economics. His personal research has featured in leading international economics journals, the front pages of national and international newspapers and also in The Economist. He is also a regular contributor on BBC Radio.

    Hannah Rumble

    Hannah is a social anthropologist with an interest in death, dying and disposal, both human and non-human. Her regional focus is the United Kingdom, where her previous research has addressed 'funeral poverty' in the UK, the British natural burial movement and young people's creative responses to death and places of disposal and memory. She has conducted numerous projects with community partnerships; most recently, in adult social care settings delivering intergenerational activities with residents and visiting primary school pupils across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset to address social isolation in older adults.

    Paula Smith

    Paula is a member of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. She is a Chartered Health Psychologist who also has a nursing background. Paula has been a lecturer in nursing and was Course Leader for the MSc in Palliative Care at the University of Sheffield. Paula is currently a member of the steering group of Help the Hospices 'Care for the Carer' project, a five year project aimed at highlighting and supporting carers in hospice settings.

    Christine Valentine

    Christine is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences. She holds a PhD from the University of Bath, 'Bereavement and Identity: Making sense of Bereavement in Contemporary British Society.' She has also researched bereavement, identity and meaning-making in the Japanese context. The findings from these studies have been published in various articles, edited collections and the book ‘Bereavement Narratives: Continuing Bonds in the 21st Century’ (Routledge, 2008). Christine is a founder member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS).

    Tony Walter

    Tony is Emeritus Professor of Death Studies at the University of Bath and past Director of CDAS. His most recent book is Death in the Modern World (2020), a global analysis of national, cultural and environmental variations in how death is managed. His current interest is the climate/ecological emergency and the death of species, including our own, to which it points and that it seeks to avert.

Associated members

    Mansur Ali

    Dr Ali is a Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University and Research Associate at the Centre for Death & Society (CDAS), University of Bath. In 2015 he was presented with a BISCA (British Imams and Scholars Contribution Award) for best contribution in teaching and research. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and Advisory Board Member of the British Association of Islamic Studies (BRAIS).

    John Birrell

    John is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Death & Society and the Department of Social & Policy Studies. His research interests are around the efficacy of bereavement care and the causes and consequences of funeral poverty. He is currently a member of the team exploring the relationship between cremation and grief one to two years following a death.

    Louise Brown

    Louise is a qualified social worker and academic whose research focuses upon the transfer of innovative practice-based interventions from one country to another. She has a specific interest in the role of evidence, managing risk and the cultural adaptation of models as they move between countries. She uses the diffusion of innovation theory to understand her work.

    Sam Carr

    Sam works within the Department of Education at the University of Bath and he has an interest in human relationships and attachment across the lifespan. His interests in attachment have resulted in a connection with Professor Malcolm Johnson and they are currently exploring the ways in which long-lived individuals experience and look back on the close relationships they have formed over the course of their lives.

    Su Chard

    Su has been an independent celebrant for the past 20 years working in the South West of England during the time of noticeable funerary changes. She completed an MSc at CDAS in 2017 where she considered how the initial questions asked by a Funeral Director impact the funeral rite that takes place. In her dissertation she framed the idea of Seculigion (Chard 2016) where mourners bring to the funeral a representation of their personal theologies. These often bridge God and No God all at the same time: Lord’s prayer and Death metal considered and placed in the same funeral. She witnessed the emergence of the freedom to do this in the later twentieth century. It could be argued that this is one of the drivers for the rise in numbers of celebrants and celebrant led funerals. Su continues to be interested in why we make the choices we do for the funerals we find ourselves organising.

    Rachid Hourizi

    Rachid’s research interests are in the field of human-computer interaction. His research involves knowledge and information exchange between individuals, groups and combinations of the two.

    Ori Katz

    Ori is interested in the cultural space between life and death, exploring states that challenge this binary distinction. His PhD aimed to trace the construction, evolution, and meaning of missingness as a social category. His previous research examined discourses on posthumous reproduction and the negotiations over its cultural implementation. He sees his next study as another layer of an overarching aim to establish connections between different sociological worlds and the sociology of death, life, and the in-between.

    Nina Parish

    Nina is an expert on the interaction between text and image in the field of modern and contemporary French Studies. More recently she has been focusing on representations of the migrant experience and multilingualism within the museum space. She is also part of the EU-funded H2020 research team working on innovative memory practices in sites of trauma including war museums and mass graves.

    Lorna Templeton

    Lorna has over 15 years experience of research in the fields of addiction and mental health. Her main area of interest and expertise is in the impact of alcohol and drug problems on children and families and she has been involved in national and international research in this area, including the ESRC project on bereavement following substance use.

    Jo Wilson, Consultant Nurse Palliative Care, Royal Free Hospital

    Jo is a Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care at the Royal Free London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Her PhD took a mixed methods approach and focused on how senior health care professionals recognise dying and negotiate decision-making with patients and families. She has co-led writing national guidance on care after death.