Rebecca Tompkins

thompkinsIn 2011, Rebecca Tompkins 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.

‘Women and the State in Japanese Waste Management’
Rebecca Tompkin’s dissertation will examine the relationship between the Japanese state and citizens, particularly women, in household waste management. Beginning in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the Japanese state made strenuous efforts, both technological and political, to ‘modernise’ the ways waste was handled in cities. The predominance of incineration in the waste management system necessitated more thorough separation of waste materials (those that could be burned and those that could not) than other methods, such as landfilling.
The Japanese state conferred a large part of the responsibility for this separation onto citizens, who were required to separate waste before its collection. As a task related to the maintenance of the household, the work of waste separation generally fell to women. In addition to managing waste in the home, women and women’s groups also often took an active role in the state’s municipal waste management efforts, cooperating with authorities both to promote efficient waste management and to achieve their own goals. This dissertation will demonstrate women’s roles in the state’s waste management initiatives by examining key waste-related events in modern Japanese history.