Head of Studies, Urban Studies
Professor Jane M Jacobs’ research is in the field of urban studies, with a particular interest in cultural aspects of the production and consumption of the built environment. She has written on the cultural politics of heritage, critical colonial and postcolonial urbanisms, and the relationship between society and architecture.
She completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and Masters’ training in Human Geography at the University of Adelaide, Australia. She then went on to complete a PhD with the University of London (University College London). Prior to joining Yale-NUS College, Prof Jacobs held positions at the University College London, The University of Melbourne and University of Edinburgh. She is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and has been a recipient of funding from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, the Australian Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK. She has served on the editorial board of various journals including Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Scottish Geographical Journal, Cultural Studies Review, Social and Cultural Geographies, Transactions IBG (NS), Gender, Place and Culture, Annals of the Association of American Geographers and Antipode. She was a founding member of the Melbourne’s Institute of Postcolonial Studies, and served as its Director 2000-2001.
She is an occasional contributor to her co-authored blog on architecture in Singapore, for which student contributions are welcome: http://architecturesingapore.wordpress.com.
Prof Jacobs manages the pleasant confusion of sharing her name with the influential, but now deceased, urbanist Jane Jacobs, who authored the book Death and Life of Great American Cities. Because of this, she has become an expert in professional disambiguation.
Prof Jacobs’ research is in the field of urban studies. Topically, her research focus is on cultural aspects of the production and consumption of urban built environments. This includes research on the politics of heritage, critical colonial and postcolonial urbanisms, the production and consumption of high-rise living, and professional cultures of city building (including architecture, planning and engineering). She works with a commitment to comparative and postcolonial frameworks, and with a qualitative and interpretative toolkit. Her urban studies publications include Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City (1996), Cities of Difference (1998), and Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture (2014). She has also published many peer review papers in journals and edited collections.
Prof Jacobs’ early career research was on indigenous rights and cultural property in Australia, which is how she became interested in the politics of urban heritage. She played a key role in the first national survey of tourist impact on Australia Aboriginal rock art sites, reported upon in Tourism and the Protection of Aboriginal Cultural Sites (1994). She also co-authored a book on indigenous claims entitled Uncanny Australia (1998). She was a founding member of the Melbourne’s Institute of Postcolonial Studies, and served as its Director 2000-2001.
Selected Publications only
Books and Edited Collections
CAIRNS, S. & JACOBS, J.M. 2014 Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture. MIT Press, Cambridge Mass..
FINCHER, R. & JACOBS, J.M. (eds) 1998 Cities of Difference. Guilford, New York City.
JACOBS, J.M. 1996 Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City. Routledge, London and New York.
Refereed Journal Articles
CHENG, Y.E. and JACOBS, J.M. 2020 Urban custodians and hospitable citizens: citizenship and social actions at two liberal arts universities in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Space and Polity, 24(1), 12-29.
JACOBS, J.M. & YUEN, B. 2019 Socio-technical Transition of Singapore Public Housing Building Technology Innovation, 1960–1995. LKYCIC Working Paper Series, No. 3. LKYCIC: Singapore.
CAIRNS, S. & JACOBS, J.M. 2019 Fallow: a comparative reflection, New Geographies 10, 23-32.
STREBEL, I. & JACOBS, J.M. 2014 Houses of Experiment: High-rise housing and the will to laboratorization, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38 (2), 450-470. Themed issue on Laboratorization and the City edited by Andrew Karvonan and Bas van Huer.
STREBEL, I. & JACOBS, J.M. 2013 People and buildings: Pearl Jephcott and the science of life in high flats, Candide: Journal for Architectural Knowledge 7, 14-35.
JACOBS, J.M. & LEES, L. 2013 Defensible space on the move: Revisiting the urban geography of Alice Coleman, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37 (5), 1559-1583. Themed issue on Urban Planning Terrains: Relational Histories and Practices of Circulating Knowledge edited by Susan Moore and Andrew Harris.
JACOBS, J.M. 2012, Comparing Comparative Urbanisms, Urban Geography, 33(6), 904-914. Themed Issue on Comparative Urbanism edited by Jennifer Robinson and Colin McFarlane.
JACOBS, J.M., CAIRNS, S. & STREBEL, I. 2012, Doing Building Work: Methods at the Interface of Geography and Architecture, Journal of Geographical Research 50 (2), 126-140.
JACOBS, J.M. 2012, Urban Geography I: Still thinking cities relationally, Progress in Human Geography, 36, 413-422.
JACOBS, J.M., & CAIRNS, S. 2008 The modern touch: Interior design and modernisation in post-independence Singapore, Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning A, 40 (3), 572 – 595.
JACOBS, J.M., CAIRNS, S., & STREBEL, I. 2007 ‘A tall story…but, a fact just the same’: The Red Road high-rise as a black box, Urban Studies, 44(3), 609-629.
JACOBS, J.M. 2006 A geography of big things, Cultural Geographies, 13(1), 1-27.
Editorials for Refereed Journals
SIDAWAY, J.D, WOON, C.Y. & JACOBS, J.M. 2014 Planetary Postcolonialism, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 25(1), 4-21.
JACOBS, J.M. & MERRIMAN, P. 2011 Practising architectures, Social and Cultural Geographies, 12(3), 211-222. Editorial for theme issue on geography and architecture.
JACOBS, J.M., & SMITH, S. J. 2008 Living room: rematerialising home, Environment and Planning A, 40(3), 515 –519. Editorial for theme issue on materiality and the home.
Chapters in Books
JACOBS, J.M. 2020 Building capital. In Withers, C.W,J.W., Heffernan, M. and Domosh, M. (eds) SAGE Handbook of Historical Geography. SAGE Publications 263-282.
JACOBS, J.M. 2019 Urban architecture. In Koboyashi, A. (ed.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Vol 2. Elsevier: 24-32.
JACOBS, J.M. 2018 Building Capital. In Withers C.W.J.W. et al. (eds) SAGE Handbook of Historical Geography. Sage.
JACOBS, J.M. 2016 The Space between Visions and Aspirations. In H. Koon Wee and Jeremy Chia (eds) Singapore Dreaming: Managing Utopia, Select Books: 135-142.
JACOBS, J.M. 2014 Re-making public space through and in Asia, in W.S.W. Lim (ed.) Public Space in Urban Asia. World Scientific Publishing, Singapore:186-190.
JACOBS, J.M., CAIRNS, S. & STREBEL. I. 2012 Materialising vision, in G. Rose and D. Toiya-Kelly (eds) Visuality/Materiality: Images, Objects and Practices. Athlone: 133-152.
JACOBS, J.M., CAIRNS, S. & STREBEL. I. 2011, Materialising vision: Performing a high-rise view, in S. Daniels, D. DeLyser, J. Ketchum and D. Richardson, Envisioning Landscapes, Making Worlds: Geography and the Humanities, Routledge: 256-268.
JACOBS, J.M. 2011 An Australian Jane Jacobs, in M. Page and T. Mennel (eds), Reconsidering Jane Jacobs, APA Press: 37-42.
JACOBS J.M. & CAIRNS, S. 2011 Ecologies of Dwelling: Maintaining High-rise Housing in Singapore, in S. Watson and G. Bridge (eds) The New Companion to the City, Blackwell: 79-95.
JACOBS, J.M. 2008 Re-qualifying the city, in P.J. Maginn, S.M. Thompson, & M. Tonts (eds) Qualitative Urban Analysis: An International Perspective. Studies in Qualitative Methodologies 9, Elsevier: 241–249.
JACOBS, J.M. 2004 The global domestic, in N. Alsayyad (ed.) The End of Tradition? Routledge: 29–44.
JACOBS, J.M. 2004 Too many houses for a home: Narrating the house in the Chinese diaspora, in S. Cairns (ed.) Drift: Architecture and Migrancy, Routledge: 164-183.
Comparative Social Inquiry
Modern Social Thought
Introduction to Urban Studies
Cityscapes and Urban Form
Heritage, Memory, Identity