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.
Jeremy Dixon became CDAS and Co-Director in 2022. Jeremy is vice president of the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on the Sociology of Mental Health and Illness. He is also vice chair of the Health Research Authority's Social Care Research Ethics Committee and is a board member on the journal Health, Risk & Society.
Kate Woodthorpe became CDAS Co-Director in 2021, having joined CDAS in January 2010, and acting 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.
Sam is Senior Lecturer within the Department of Education at the University of Bath, and has an interest in human relationships and attachment across the lifespan. His interests in attachment have resulted in a connection with Professor Malcolm Johnson. 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.
Jo completed the MSc in Death and Society at the University of Bath and is currently a registered Social Worker and qualified PEPS current Practice Educator. 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 is a Senior 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, along with being a CDAS research fellow, works as a research fellow in the Institute of Education at the University College. He completed his PhD at CDAS in 2018 where he worked as a research associate for a CDAS project on older people’s loneliness. Drawing upon his experience in a range of collaborative projects about ageing and end of life care issues across the UK, China, Japan and Australia, Chao is currently conducting a longitudinal qualitative research project on long-Covid, where he will work with researchers from the University of York and many other institutions. Alongside the exciting project, Chao will continue his work in CDAS on further developing a trans-national research network on ageing, end of life care and social policy in the Pacific region.
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 life course, loss, and complex grief in prison.
Yvonne is a criminologist and prison researcher with expertise in the architecture and design of custodial environments. She has been a Professor if Criminology since 2007, and since 2018 at the University of Bath. 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 life course 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'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 is currently an Assistant Professor of Social Policy at the Department of Social Policy and Social Sciences at the University of Bath. His 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.
Jana Králová is a Lecturer in Social Work at Edinburgh Napier University, an invited member of an organising committee of Challenging Research Group (Birkbeck University of London), fellow at Higher Education Academy, interdisciplinary theorist, and CDAS PhD graduate. Jana's 15 year interdisciplinary research into Social Death exposes the conceptual inadequacies of human rights and social policy and their real-word consequences. To mitigate these, Jana has developed theoretical framework which enables conceptual 'inclusion by default' of those otherwise omitted by theoretical frames of human rights and social policy. Jana welcomes PhD supervision proposals and research collaborations on the topic of social death. #InclusionByDefault, #CureSocialDeath.
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 is a Senior lecturer in 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.
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.
Christine is a Research and 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 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.
Ruth is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the Sociology Department at the University of York. Her background in Sociology is united with an interest in crime and deviance, death studies and popular culture and celebrity. Notably she is now developing a career focused on pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) and is the Deputy Head of Department (Teaching, Learning and Assessment) as well as the current Chair of Board of Studies. Ruth has established the Death and Culture Network (DaCNet) at York.
Dr. Stacey Pitsilides is an Assistant Professor at Northumbria University, School of Design. Her research explores death and technology through participatory and speculative design methods – collaborating with hospices, festivals, libraries, and scientists. This has been explored through a series of publications, and a body of practice, including the Death Positive Library: Love After Death. This research has been commissioned and installed during NESTA’s FutureFest, London Design Week, the ESRC Festival of Social Science and DesignTO festival, Toronto, Dying. Dialogues series among others, with an online programme during COVID-19. Dr Pitsillides is on the standing committee for the Death Online Research Network and an ASDS council member.
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).
Louise is a Professor of International Social Work & Innovation at the University of Bath and 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.
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.
Helen obtained her PhD on Victorian funeral customs from the University of Leeds in 2009. She continues to publish and speak widely on the history and folklore of death, dying and bereavement, including appearances on the History Channel and BBC Radio. Other previous research, conducted with Dr Stuart Prior, has investigated the informal occupational culture of frontline cemetery staff. Helen is Secretary of the Association for the Study of Death & Society (ASDS) and a Council Member and Trustee of the Folklore Society.
Having broad experience leading the teaching of coding, digital skills and entrepreneurship in the University of Bath's Department of Computer Science, Rachid now leads the Institute of Coding- a national Institute announced by the Prime Minister in January 2018. Prior to his role in the IoC, Richard's research interests were in the field of human-computer interaction. His research involves knowledge and information exchange between individuals, groups and combinations of the two.
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 is an expert on the interaction between text and image in the field of modern and contemporary French Studies now based at the University of Stirling . 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.
Dr. Bethan Michael-Fox, FRSA, SFHEA works as an Associate Lecturer for the Open University, where she is also an Honorary Associate in the School of English and Creative Writing and a member of the Open Thanatology Research Group. Before going part-time to raise a young family, Beth was a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education and English at the University of Bedfordshire. Her research interests focus on engagement with death and the dead in popular culture, in particular in English language literature and on television. Beth is the Assistant Editor for the academic journal Mortality, Social Media Manager for the Open Access journal Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural and co-host of The Death Studies Podcast. She is a General Council Member for the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS). You can find out more about Beth and her current research projects at www.drbethanmichaelfox.com.
Dr Tal Morse is a media and communication scholar, interested in the mediation of death and attitudes towards death in contemporary society, and he is the author of “The Mourning News: Reporting Violent Death in a Global Age” (2017). His post-doc research at The Minerva Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of End-of-Life in Tel Aviv University focused on the public deliberation on the “good death”. In recent years, Tal studies digital engagement with death and the use of posthumous digital technologies. His research project as a visiting fellow at CDAS studies the victimology discourse about Covid-19 victims in Israel.
Diana is a social gerontologist and Lecturer in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath, where she has recently completed her PhD. Her thesis focuses on the experience of dying in care homes and the care thereof. In the first substantial study of end-of-life care (EOLC) in care homes in nearly 20 years, Diana’s thesis sheds new light on the management of residents’ dying by care home staff. Her thesis concludes that dying in care homes is not a natural process, but a highly managed one. To comply with regulations, care home staff shape residents’ dying and naturalise specific deaths. This raises questions about what sorts of deaths are being supported in care homes. Diana gave the 2022 Beatrice Godwin Memorial Lecture on some of her thesis’ findings. Diana’s research features in Social Science and Medicine.
Jo Wilson, Consultant Nurse Palliative Care, Royal Free Hospital
Jo is a Macmillan Consultant Nurse in Palliative Care at the Royal Free London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Clinical Lead for Advance Care Planning. 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 and Registered Nurse Verification of Expected Adult Death.
Alastair is an ESRC funded PhD student in Social Policy at the University of Bath. His PhD study entitled ‘A gradual farewell with music’ will marry sociological and musicological paradigms to explore the embodied experience of music in people’s experiences of loss. His broader research interests include music in every life, bereavement, ageing and loneliness. He obtained his first-class BA Music degree from Bath Spa University and subsequently obtained a distinction in his MRes in Sociology from the University of Bath. During his research he has become increasingly interested in sociomusicology and the novel contributions this perspective can make to a variety of fields. Much of his research has been inspired by his experience working alongside music leaders in a hospice music group and his experience as a tenor Lay Clerk at Bath Abbey.
Sarah is currently studying for a PhD in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies. Her thesis examines the digital memorialisation of national traumatic events and what the online space can offer in this area, using the online memorialisation of 9/11 as a case study. She holds an MSc in International Relations from the University of Bristol, and a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages from the University of Sheffield. Her areas of research interest include memory politics, memorialisation (particularly digital), and national identity.
George is pursuing a PhD in Social and Policy Sciences, funded by ESRC and the University of Bath. His PhD thesis is Repatriationscapes: death and body repatriation among African diaspora in the UK. His work focuses on Afrocentric perspectives on death, moving away from Western / Eurocentric perspectives. How does death portray African diaspora regarding policy and regulations within the dominant discourse in the UK? George’s work addresses broader global issues involving identity, belonging, migration and social capital. His research aims to draw to the mainstream, foster understanding of Afrocentric perspectives on death, funerary rituals, and practices. George obtained a Master of Research in International Development with a distinction from the University of Bath in 2021. He obtained a Master of Science in Social and Cultural Theory from the University of Bristol (UK) in 2020. He has a Bachelor of Education (Honours) from Makerere University, Uganda. George moved to the UK ten years ago.
Chenyang is studying for her Ph.D. in Social & Policy Sciences. She has a Master of Research in Social Work, University of Bath, and a Bachelor of Law, University of Science & Technology Beijing. Her research interest is how to promote the development of palliative care in mainland China, including exploring new models of palliative care and related social policies, the application of alternative medicine in palliative care, the doctor-patient relationships in alternative medicine, and opportunities and challenges facing Traditional Chinese Medicine under the background of Neo-liberalism. Her project is about the Shanghai palliative care model. Her research focuses on exploring to what extent the Shanghai model of palliative care in mainland China builds upon alternative approaches to medicine.
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.
Mathew has been involved in services relating to deathcare and its management for over 25 years. During this time he has been involved in operational practices, providing direct service delivery to bereaved persons and their wider communities throughout the UK, and in later years has pivoted to a more strategic role working for a non-profit organisation which provides training and guidance for professionals within the deathcare sector, often tackling the sensitive issues that, whilst providing the most discomfort in addressing, yield the largest reward in being able to drive policies forward that are of benefit to bereaved people. Mathew has recently begun his studies through the University of Bath’s Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice programme and he looks forward to engaging with the CDAS arm of the University and providing an alternative, lived perspective to the valuable and ongoing works undertaken.