|Emeritus Professor in the Department of Anthropology|
|Emeritus Professor in Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)|
|Fellow of Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing|
Bob Simpson is a social anthropologist whose research interests focus broadly on Bioethics, Biomedicine and Biotechnologies.
His current research interests centre on tissue economies and moralities as these relate to organs, gametes and embryos. One of his main research interests is the procurement and use of cadaveric tissue [see New Immortalities]
His work has also explored the encounter between challenging technological developments and local systems of values and beliefs in South Asia.
Between 2002-04 he held a Wellcome Biomedical Ethics Fellowship which enabled him to carry out research into the reception of new reproductive and genetic technologies in Sri Lanka.
He has also written numerous articles and essays on pedagogy and anthropology.
Recently completed projects include:
- Biomedical Health Experimentation in South Asia 2010-2012 [£500k- ESRC/DfID - Bob Simpson CI along with Dr Salla Sariola (Durham) and Professor Roger Jeffery and Dr Ian Harper (Edinburgh)].
- International Science Collaborations and Bioethics. 2007 to 2010 [£1.4million - ESRC - Professor Marilyn Strathern as Principal Investigator and Bob Simpson Co-Investigator [Durham], along with Monica Konrad [Cambridge] and Margaret Sleeboom Faulkner [Sussex].
- Infertility and the New Reproductive Technologies among British Pakistani Moslems. 2006-2010 [£167k - ESRC - Bob Simpson, Principal Investigator along with Kate Hampshire, Co-Investigator and Mwenza Blell Reseacher]
- He was also Principal Investigator in 2006 on an ESRC funded Researcher Development Initiative project [£58k, along with Robin Humphrey of Newcastle University] to develop workshops and resources supporting third year PhD students writing up Qualitative data: Writing Across Boundaries. This project is now an advanced training workshop of the Northern Ireland and North East [NINE] Doctoral Training Partnership.
An open access introduction to ethnography for undergraduates.
First encounters with the work of creating ethnographic texts can be daunting and confusing. In the attached text I have tried to provide a brief and easily accessible introduction to the idea of worlds and how to go about studying these anthropologically.
- Death and Donation
- Tissue economies [as these relate to organs, gametes and embryos]
- 'Human subject research' and the ethics of experimentation involving humans
- Comparative bioethics
- Kinship and the new reproductive and genetic technologies
- Kinship, divorce, and relationship breakdown in Western societies
- Narrative and biography
- Sri Lanka, ritual tradition and performance
- 2011: REF 2014 Panel Member [Anthropology and Development].:
- 2010: Member of the editorial board of Anthropology in Action:
- 2010: Member of the editorial board of LATISS [Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences]:
- 2010: Member of the ESRC Peer Review College:
- 2010: Member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Human Tissue Donation in Research and Therapy [2010-2011]:
- 2010: Member of the Royal Anthroplogical Institute Publications Committee [2009-2011]:
- 2010: Member of the Royal Anthropological Institute Council:
- 2010: Member of the Royal Anthropological Institute Medical Anthropology Committee :
Available for media contact about:
- Religion: ritual
- Religion: tradition
- Religion: Sri Lanka
- Simpson, Bob (2022). Tractatus Methodologico-Ethnographicus: A Short Introduction to the Anthropological Study of Worlds.
- Sariola, S & Simpson, B (2019). Research as Development Biomedical Research, Ethics, and Collaboration in Sri Lanka. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- Simpson, B. (1998). Changing Families: An ethnographic approach to divorce and separation. Oxford: Berg Press: Routledge.
Chapter in book
- Kirtsoglou, Elisabeth & Simpson, Bob (2021). Introduction. In The Time of Anthropology: Studies of Contemporary Chronopolitics. Kirtsoglou, Elisabeth & Simpson, Bob Routledge. 52: 1-30.
- Simpson, Bob (2019). Managing the pious cadaver: Whole body donation and Anatomy in Sri Lanka. In Residues of Death: Disposal Refigured. Van Ryn, Luke, Nansen, Bjorn, Gibbs, Martin & Kohn, Tamara Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
- Simpson, R., Blell, M. & Hampshire, K. (2015). Moral Pioneers: Pakistani Muslims and the Take-up of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the North of England. In Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the Third Phase: Global Encounters and Emerging Moral Worlds. Hampshire, K. & Simpson, R. New York: Berghahn Books. 46-68.
- Simpson, B. (2013). Building Capacity: A Sri Lankan Perspective On Ethics And Accountability. In Collaborators Collaborating: Counterparts in Anthropological Knowledge and International Research Relations. Konrad, M. Oxford: Berghahn.
- Simpson, B. (2012). Legacies and Linkages: Episodes in the Establishment of New Reproductive Technologies in Contemporary Sri Lanka. In Reproductive Technologies As Global Form: Ethnographies of Knowledge, Practices, and Transnational Encounters. Kneckt, M. Beck, S. & Klotz, M. Campus Press and Chicago University Press.
- Simpson, B. (2011). Capacity Building in Developing World Bioethics: Perspectives on biomedical ethics in contemporary Sri Lanka. In The Social Functions of Bioethics Around the Globe. Myser, C. Oxford University Press.
- Simpson, B. (2010). A ‘Therapeutic Gap’ Anthropological Perspectives on Prenatal Diagnostics and Termination in Sri Lanka. In Predictive Testing and the Social Sciences: frameworks of choice in Asia. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam. 27-42.
- Simpson, B. (2006). ‘You don’t do fieldwork, fieldwork does you’ Between Subjectivation and Objectivation in Anthropological Fieldwork. In The Sage Handbook of Fieldwork. Hobbs, D. & Wright, R. London: Sage.
- Simpson, R. (2004). Localising a Brave New World: New Reproductive Technologies and the Politics of Fertility in Contemporary Sri Lanka. In Reproductive Agency, Medicine and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing. Unnithan-Kumar, Maya. New York Oxford: Beghahn Books. 43-57.
- Coleman, S. & Simpson, B. (2004). Knowing, Doing and Being: Pedagogies and Paradigms in the Teaching of Social Anthropology. In Current Policies and Practices in European Social Anthropology. Drackle, D. & Edgar, I. Oxford: Berghahn. 18-33.
- Kirtsoglou, Elisabeth & Simpson, Bob (2020). The Time of Anthropology: Studies of Contemporary Chronopolitics. ASA Monographs Series. Routledge.
- Hampshire, K. & Simpson, R. (2015). Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the Third Phase: Global Encounters and Emerging Moral Worlds. Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality, Volume 31. New York: Berghahn Books.
- Simpson, B. (2018). Global Bioethics: A Story of Dreams and Doubts from Bengal, India. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 61(2): 215-229.
- Pels, Peter, Boog, Igor, Henrike Florusbosch, J., Kripe, Zane, Minter, Tessa, Postma, Metje, Sleeboom-Faulkner, Margaret, Simpson, Bob, Dilger, Hansjörg, Schönhuth, Michael, von Poser, Anita, Castillo, Rosa Cordillera A., Lederman, Rena & Richards-Rissetto, Heather (2018). Data management in anthropology: the next phase in ethics governance? Social Anthropology 26(3): 391-413.
- Simpson, Bob (2018). A “we” problem for bioethics and the social sciences: A response to Barbara Prainsack. Science, Technology, & Human Values 43(1): 45-55.
- Simpson, Bob & Douglas-Jones, Rachel (2017). Afterword: New immortalities? Medicine Anthropology Theory 4(4): 171-173.
- Simpson, Bob & Douglas-Jones, Rachel (2017). New immortalities: Death, donation, and dedication in the twenty-first century. Medicine Anthropology Theory 4(4): 1-21.
- Simpson, R. (2017). Local Virtue and Global Vision: The Practice of Eye donation in contemporary Sri Lanka. Medicine Anthropology Theory 4(4): 150-170.
- Sleeboom-Faulkner, M., Simpson, R., Burgos-Martinez, E. & McMurray, J. (2017). The formalization of social-science research ethics: How did we get there? HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7(1): 71-79.
- Simpson, R. (2016). IVF in Sri Lanka: A concise history of regulatory impasse. Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online 2: 8-15.
- Simpson, B., Khatri, R., Ravindran, D. & Udalagama, T. (2015). Pharmaceuticalisation and ethical review in South Asia: Issues of scope and authority for practitioners and policy makers. Social Science & Medicine 131: 247-254.
- Simpson, Bob (2015). Fifteenth Century Problems for the Twenty-First Century Gift: Human Tissue Transactions in Ethnically Diverse Societies. Anthropological Forum 24(4): 338-350.
- Simpson, R. (2015). Ref 2014 and Impact: Reading the Runes for Anthropology in Action. Anthropology in Action 22(2): 1-4.
- Hampshire, K., Blell, M., Iqbal, N. & Simpson, B. (2014). The interview as narrative ethnography: seeking and shaping connections in qualitative research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(3): 215-231.
- Sariola, S. & Simpson, B. (2013). Precarious ethics: Toxicology research among self-poisoning hospital admissions in Sri Lanka. BioSocieties 8(1): 41-57.
- Humphrey, R. & Simpson, B. (2013). Negotiating a ‘Scary Gap’ Doctoral Candidates, ‘Writing Up’ Qualitative Data and the Contemporary Supervisory Relationship. Journal of Education and Training Studies 1(1).
- Simpson, B. & Sleeboom-Faulkner, M. (2013). Foreword. Special edition on Precarious Ethics. BioSocieties 8(1): 41.
- Simpson, Bob (2013). Managing Potential in Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Reflections on Gifts, Kinship, and the Process of Vernacularization. Current Anthropology 54(Supplement 7): S87-S96.
- Simpson, B. & Sariola, S. (2012). Blinding Authority: Randomized Clinical Trials and the Production of Global Scientific Knowledge in Contemporary Sri Lanka. Science, Technology, & Human Values 37(5): 555-575.
- Hampshire, K., Blell, M. & Simpson, B. (2012). Navigating new socio-demographic landscapes: using anthropological demography to understand the ‘persistence’ of high and early fertility among British Pakistanis. European Journal of Population / Revue européenne de Démographie 28(1): 39-63.
- Hampshire, K.R., Blell, M.T. & Simpson, B. (2012). ‘Everybody is moving on’ Infertility, relationality and the aesthetics of family among British-Pakistani Muslims. Social Science & Medicine 74(7): 1045-1052.
- SIMPSON, B. (2011). Ethical Moments: Future Directions in Ethical review for Ethnography. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17(2): 377-393.
- Sariola, S. & Simpson, B. (2011). Theorising the ‘human subject’ in biomedical research: International clinical trials and bioethics discourses in contemporary Sri Lanka. Social Science & Medicine 73(4): 515-521.
- Simpson, B (2011). Blood Rhetorics: Donor campaigns and their publics in contemporary Sri Lanka. Ethnos 76(2): 254-275.
- Simpson, B. (2010). A good straight road: Reflections on the development of pre-university anthropology in the UK. Anthropology in Action 17(2-3): 105-113.
- Simpson, R., Dissanayake, V.H.W., Douglas-Jones, R.C. & Sariola, S. (2010). Ethical Review, Remit and Responsibility in Biomedical Research in South Asia. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 7(2): 113-114.
- Simpson, B. & Humphrey, R. (2010). Writing Across Boundaries: Reflections on the Place of Writing in Doctoral Research Training for Social Scientists. Learning and Teaching (The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences) 3(1).
- Simpson, B. (2009). 'Please give a drop of blood’ Blood donation, conflict and the haemato-global assemblage in contemporary Sri Lanka'. Body and Society 15(2): 101-122
- Simpson, Bob (2009). We have always been modern: Buddhism, Science and the New Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in Sri Lanka. Culture and Religion 10(2): 137-157.
- Simpson, B. (2009). Citizenship, Craft and the Making of Mode Two Citizens. Learning and Teaching (The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences) 2(3): 98-105.
- Arseculeratne, S.N., Simpson, B., Premasiri, P.D. & Kumasiri, P.V.R. (2008). Ethics, Culture and Relativism: Some reflections on teaching Medical Ethics in Sri Lanka. Asia Pacific Journal of Health Law & Ethics 2(1): 131-160.
- Simpson, B. & Humphrey, R. (2008). Writing Across Boundaries: Writing and Rhetoric in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Researcher 8: 10-11.
- Kumarasiri, P.V.R., Arseculeratne, S.N., Premasiri, P.D. & Simpson, B. (2008). Centres of Ethical Gravity: A Comparison of Responses to Contemporary Biomedical Dilemmas among Young People in Sri Lanka and England. Asia Pacific Journal of Health Law & Ethics 2(2): 211-237.
- Simpson, B. (2007). Negotiating the Therapeutic Gap: Prenatal Diagnostics and Termination in Sri Lanka. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 5(3): 207-215.
- Simpson, B. (2007). On Parrots and Thorns: Sri Lankan Perspectives on Genetics, Science and Personhood. Health Care Analysis 15(1): 41-49.
- Simpson, B. (2004). On the impossibility of invariant repetition:Ritual tradition and creativity among Sri Lankan ritual specialists. Anthropology and History 13(3): 301-316.
- Simpson, B. (2004). Refractions Through Culture: The New Genomics in Contemporary Iceland. Ethnos 68(4): 533-543.
- Simpson, R. (2004). Impossible gifts: Bodies, Buddhism and Bioethics in Contemporary Sri Lanka. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10(4): 839-859.
- Simpson, R. (2004). Acting ethically, responding culturally: Framing the new reproductive and genetic technologies in Sri Lanka. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 5(3): 227-243.
- Simpson, R. (2001). Making 'bad' deaths 'good': The kinship consequences of posthumous conception. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 7(1): 1-18.
- Simpson, B. (1997). Possession, dispossession and social distribution of knowledge among Sri Lankan ritual specialists. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 3(1): 43-59.
- Simpson, B. (1997). On gifts, payments and disputes: Divorce and changing family structures in contemporary Britain. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 3: 731-745.