Do people actually read Jane Jacobs anymore, or has she become a misappropriated symbol for old-guard thinking in the same way that she was misappropriated as a symbol for David-vs-Goliath preservationism? Even Kazys now suggests that we throw her out in the face of gentrifying and demographically inverting cities -- things that make her core arguments for variation, limited regulation, and localism more relevant than ever. Her most revered book is nearly 50 years(!!!) old, he exclaims. What good could she be to us now?

Token Jacobsism.


Anonymous said...

I know they still read her, because at one of my organization's events recently on public safety a young guy told everyone to go read "The Death and Life of.." and people emailed afterwords wanting the exact name and author. If that helps at all... :)

Anonymous said...

what good could she be? are you kidding?

Mario Ballesteros said...

i understand kazys, to a point. the problem is that we as urban enthusiasts or students only get jacobs rehashed, filtered and out of context, in a way that the work looses its punch and significance. jacobs has become tautology (same thing with deleuze&guattari, and before that it derrida, or benjamin, or foucault). that doesn't mean their work has become pointless. it's only more difficult to appreciate them critically in the midst of fads and fluff and the farrago.

what kazys should really abandon is the now pointless binary opposition between city and suburb.

Daniel Nairn said...

We read her at University of Virginia. Death and Life is still required.

Jacobs was a complex thinker, so it certainly is hard to extract token phrases out of her. I personally do not think that the standard urbanist paradigm has shifted since she wrote Death and Life. We are still in Jacob's era, and most of her vision is still a long way from being implemented.