R.C. (Rebecca) Tompkins

  • PhD student
  • Japanese studies

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 3503
E-Mail: r.c.tompkins@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SAS Japan
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.06a

Fields of Interest

Waste management and recycling in East Asia, Japanese culture and society

PhD research

Supervisor: Prof. Kasia Cwiertka

Rebecca will be researching waste management in Japan as a member of the Garbage Matters Project. The overall aim of this project is to examine waste as a social phenomenon in contemporary East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), and to explore the historical shifts behind the transformation of practices related to the ‘production’ and disposal of garbage since the Second World War. Rising affluence, represented by growing levels of personal consumption, played a critical role in this transformation. It fuelled a successive expansion of the mass availability of consumer goods, and was accompanied by the overpowering encroachment of the food-processing and packaging industries. These, and other, developments contributed to a makeover of the everyday practices of shopping and housework, as the culture of scarcity and the ethos of frugality gradually gave way to the veneration of material comfort and convenience. Rebecca will examine the history of waste management policy as well as the cultural values associated with the concept of ‘waste’ in Japan.


In 2011, Rebecca received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Japanese language, from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, United States. After a summer of intensive language study at Doshisha University in Kyoto as part of the U.S. Critical Language Scholarship program, she began the Regional Studies: East Asia master’s program at Harvard University. From 2012-2013 she studied Japanese at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama, Japan, with support from the College Women’s Association of Japan. She received her master’s degree in 2013 with a thesis entitled “Birth Control Policy and the Politics of the Pill in Japan.” She has been studying Japan and the Japanese language for over six years, including two years of studying and living in Japan.

Last Modified: 11-12-2015