Zohreh BayatRizi is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Alberta. Her main interests are the history of sociological concepts as well as the sociology of death and dying. Currently, she is working on a project focused on conceptualizing a critical, transnational concept of grief. Her most recent publication is ‘Risk, Mourning, Politics: Toward a Critical, Transnational Conception of Grief for COVID-19 Deaths in Iran’ (2021). She has also published Life Sentences: The Modern Ordering of Mortality and ‘From Fate to Risk: The Quantification of Mortality in Early Modern Statistics’.

Relying on an analysis of 19th century literature on suicide in Western Europe (U.K. France, Italy, Austro-Hungarian Empire), this talk will explore how suicide was transformed from a symbolic act of definace into a pathological behaviour. In particular, it will examine how social and psychological debates took over and replaced religious debates and by doing so nullified the question of agency and the free will in the suicide act. The talk will end with a consideration of the contemporary implications of this historical shift.