Dr Robert Simpkins

Key information

Japan Research Centre Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Email address


Robert Simpkins is a social anthropologist interested in how creative arts and acts are involved in the negotiation of self, social connection, and wellbeing. He is currently writing his book manuscript, based upon two years of research with street musicians in the Koenji neighbourhood of Tokyo. He explores the role of public performance in the context of the disappearance of regular and well-compensated work, loneliness and isolation, and the disparity between the musicians’ expectations of a good life, and their lived realities. The book also addresses issues of concern in urban space, music, sound and soundscapes, the body and gender studies.

Robert is co-organizing the upcoming podcast series ‘Artery’, with Dr Iza Kavedžija (University of Cambridge), in which anthropologists, specializing in different cultural contexts, have a conversation with an artist about issues of authorship and responsibility in art making. Robert is also a founding member of the AHRC-funded ‘Groups, Clubs and scenes: Informal Creative Practices in Japan’ research network, which is developing the first wide-ranging study of non-professional arts groups in Japan.

Research interests

Anthropology of Japan, Music and Sound, Creativity, Marginality and Urban Space.

Contact Robert