Zohreh BayatRizi, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Sociology Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Sociology Dept
(780) 492-4301
6-11 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
T6G 2H4


Area of Study / Keywords

Sociology of death and grief; history of sociological concepts; sociology of Iran


I received my MA and PhD from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and my BA from the University of Tehran, Iran. Before coming to the University of Alberta, I worked at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. I also worked as a journalist in Iran during my undergraduate studies. When I'm not working or spending time with my family, I listen to audio-book and follow developments in Iranian politics and society.

In addition to my Twitter account linked above, I also maintain an Instagram account in Farsi @dr_bayatrizi


My research interests include sociology of death and grief, sociology of Iran, history of sociology, law and society, and medical sociology.

A critical sociology of death and grief

My aim here is to introduce a critical, transnational perspective on death and grief as a way to address and remedy a long standing bias in death and grief studies. Countries in the Global North have banished death to the Global South but have maintained a monopoly on the concept of 'grief'. Mortality rates are highest in economically disadvantaged countries but the existing literature on grief and loss has a one-sided focus on the economically most advantageous countries. There is more published about how people in the Global North deal with the loss of their pets than on how parents deal with the loss of their children in the Global South. My recent work focuses on reversing this trend by focusing on a critical, transnational conception of grief as exemplified in my work on grief among Iranian diaspora in Canada and grief caused by COVID-19 in Iran.

A genealogy of sociological 'problems'

I have long been interested in how things become ‘problems’. Sociologists study social ‘problems’, such as class, power, labour, gender, death, suicide, inequality, from empirical or theoretical points of view. I study how these things have become ‘problems’ to begin with. My research is primarily historical and focuses on the pre-classical period of sociology: mid-17th to mid-19th centuries, especially the statistical tradition in the UK. My research interests were shaped by my first major project, which examined how death became a problem for early modern scientists, especially statisticians and demographers. This problematization transformed death from a divine ‘fate’ into a calculable ‘risk’. This project focused on how the invention of statistics in Western Europe and its application to the topic of mortality enabled a new cultural approach to death characterized by a desire to make death more quantifiable and therefore more ‘orderly’, predictable and preventable. 

Currently, I am collaborating with Dr. M. Maroto in a new SSHRC-funded project (2020-) on class and inequality in Canada. My role in this research project is to investigate 'Class' as a problem in sociology: what constitutes class, how did it become a 'problem' in sociology, and what is the future of the concept of class in sociology.

Sociology of Iran

The above interests extend to my native Iran. My early interest in the sociology of death has continued today with a series of smaller, self-contained projects on death and dying in contemporary Iran. I am also interested in the history of sociology in Iran as a case of the global expansion of the social sciences in the post-WWII period. In particular, I have examined the political role of sociology and social thought in Iran in several of my recent writings. 


I primarily teach courses in social theory and introductory sociology. My guiding principle in teaching is that theoretical and applied teaching are inseparable. A rich theoretical education will help student develop critical thinking, information gathering, synthesizing, and writing skills. I prefer to teach primary texts rather than secondary sources.

On a given day, we might watch movie clips, write short fiction to illustrate theoretical points, or have class discussions. I use PowerPoint begrudgingly. I have yet to see its educational value but some students seem to love it. Writing is a big part of my courses and I tend to allocate a lot of time trying to teach students how to properly form a position and develop and argument on a topic. 

My favourite course is social theories of death and dying.


For graduate applicants: Please note that the Department of Sociology makes all of the admission decisions. The professors are not able to admit students to the program. In order to be considered for admission you must meet all the requirements as specified here and submit all your documentation online as specified here. If you are interested in the areas of death, history of sociological concepts, history of sociology, or sociology in Iran, and would like to contact me before submitting your official application, please email me and include a C.V., a sample of your writing, your transcripts, IELTS scores (if available), and a brief description of your research and scholarly interests. I can review these informally but I am not in a position to advise you to formally apply or not or access your chances of being admitted.

قابل توجه علاقه‌مندان به اپلای: دانشکده جامعه‌شناسی مرجع اصلی برای پذیرش دانشجویان فوق لیسانس و دکترا است. اساتید دانشکده قدرت پذیرش دانشجو را ندارند. در صورت علاقه به اپلای لطفا این لینک و این لینک را چک کنید. چنانچه اسم من را به عنوان استاد راهنمای احتمالی خود در فایل اپلای ذکر کنید، دانشکده جامعه‌شناسی پس از تکمیل تمام مدارک شما، با من تماس خواهد گرفت و خواهد پرسید که آیا علاقه‌مند به فایل شما هستم یا نه. در نتیجه لزومی ندارد که قبل از اپلای با من تماس بگیرید. برای آماده کردن فایل اپلای حتما به صفحات اینترنتی مجانی که برای کمک به دانشجویان ایرانی برای اپلای درست شده‌اند مراجعه کنید (مثل این) و (مثل این). مشکل اغلب دانشجویان ایرانی برای پذیرش این است که نمی‌دانند چطور یک شرح علایق تحقیقی را بنویسند.

اگه از درجات عملی بالا برخوردارید و تمام ملاک‌های پذیرش را که در لینک‌‌ها ذکر‌شده ‌اند دارید، و باز هم علاقه‌مند هستید که قبل از اپلای با من تماس بگیرید، لطفا رزومه کامل، نمرات درسی، معدل ۲۰ واحد آخر لیسانس و معدل کل فوق لیسانس، یک نمونه مقاله علمی، و یک شرح علایق تحقیقاتی شامل گرایش‌های نظری و روش‌شناختی خود را ضمیمه ایمیل کنید. اما توجه کنید که من هیچ گونه نفوذی در تصمیمات پذیرش ندارم و حتا نمیتوانم دقیقا به شما بگویم که شانس پذیرش شما چیست. موفق باشید.


Risk, Mourning, Politics: Toward a Critical Transnational Conception of Grief for COVID-19 Deaths in Iran

Author(s): BayatRizi, Zohreh Ghorbani, Hajar Taslimi-Tehran, Reza
Publication Date: 6/16/2021
Publication: Current Sociology
Volume: 69
Issue: 4
Page Numbers: 512-528
External Link: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00113921211007153

مرگ و مدرنیته ایرانی: تخصصی شدن مناسک مرگ در بهشت‌زهرای تهران (Death and Iranian Modernity: Professionalization of Death Rituals in Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery)

Author(s): Zohreh BayatRizi, Hajar Ghorbani
Publication Date: 6/3/2021
Publication: مطالعات اجتماعی مرگ: جستارهایی در باب مرگ در فرهنگ و جامعه ایرانیSocial Studies of Death: Research on Death in Iranian Culture and Society
Page Numbers: 465-486

مدیریت مخاطرات، مدیریت مرگ: کرونا در بهشت ‌زهرای تهران (Death Management, Risk Management: COVID Deaths in Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery)

Author(s): Zohreh BayatRizi, Hajar Ghorbani
Publication Date: 6/3/2021
Publication: مطالعات اجتماعی مرگ: جستاریهایی در باب مرگ در فرهنگ و جامعه ایرانی (Social Studies of Death: Research on Death in Iranian Culture and Society)
Page Numbers: 501-516

‘Revisiting the Sequestration Theory: The Case of Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery’

Author(s): BayatRizi, Ghorbani
Publication Date: 2019
Publication: Death Across Cultures, edited by H. Selin and R. Rakoff. Springer Publishers.
Page Numbers: 103-118
External Link: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030188252

‘A Critical Synthesis of Social Theories about Death, with Special Attention to the Changing Social Realities of Death in Iran.’

Author(s): Bayatrizi
Publication Date: 2018
Publication: Majjaleh-ye Motale’at-e Ejtemayi (Iran)
Volume: 10
Issue: 2-3
Page Numbers: 36-56

‘The Objective Life of Death in Tehran: A Vanishing Presence.’

Author(s): Bayatrizi, Taslimi-Tehrani
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Mortality
Volume: 22
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 15-32
External Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13576275.2016.1176019?journalCode=cmrt20

From Marx to Giddens via Weber and Habermas: The Politics of Social Theory in Iran

Author(s): Bayatrizi, Zohreh
Publication Date: 2016
Publication: European Journal of Social Theory
Volume: 19
Issue: 3/4
Page Numbers: 1-17
External Link: http://est.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/09/03/1368431015599626.abstract

Mapping Character Types Onto Space: The Urban/Rural Distinction in Early Statistical Writings

Author(s): Bayatrizi, Zohreh
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: The History of the Human Sciences
Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 28-47
External Link: http://intl-hhs.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/03/18/0952695111399344?patientinform-links=yes&legid=sphhs;0952695111399344v1

Between Palace and Prison: Toward a Reflexive History of Academic Sociology in Iran.

Author(s): Bayatrizi, Zohreh
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: International Sociology
Volume: 28
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 467-483
External Link: http://iss.sagepub.com/content/28/4/467

Counting the Dead, Regulating the Living: Bio-Social Statistics and the Genealogy of the Sociological Imagination

Author(s): Bayatrizi,
Publication Date: 2009
Publication: The British Journal of Sociology
Volume: 60
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 604-622
External Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-4446.2009.01260.x/abstract

From Fate to Risk: The Quantification of Mortality in Early Modern Statistics

Author(s): B
Publication Date: 2008
Publication: Theory, Culture and Society
Volume: 25
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 121-143
External Link: http://tcs.sagepub.com/content/25/1

Life Sentences: The Modern Ordering of Mortality

Author(s): B
External Link: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Sentences-Modern-Ordering-Mortality/dp/0802097553