Janet Jakobsen

Claire Tow Professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies


American Studies, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies


Janet R. Jakobsen is the Claire Tow Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She served for 15 years as Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), and she has also served as Barnard’s Dean for Faculty Diversity and Development and Chair of the President’s Committee on Online and On-Campus Learning (COOL). As Director of BCRW, Professor Jakobsen founded the webjournal Scholar & Feminist Online (http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publication-sections/sf-online/), along with the New Feminist Solutions series of activist research projects with community-based organizations, such as the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Queers for Economic Justice, the New York Women’s Foundation, and A Better Balance: Work and Family Legal Center (http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publication-sections/nfs/). 

She is the author of The Sex Obsession: Perversity and Possibility in American Politics and Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics. With Ann Pellegrini she co-wrote Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance and co-edited Secularisms. With Elizabeth Castelli she co-edited Interventions: Academics and Activists Respond to Violence

She is currently a Principal Investigator along with Elizabeth Bernstein for the Gender Justice and Neoliberal Transformations Working Group, a collaboration among 13 scholars working transnationally on questions of gender justice in the contemporary world, which is sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women (http://bcrw.barnard.edu/projects/transnationalfeminisms/gender-justice-n...).. She is also a Co-Investigator with Lila Abu-Lughod, Rema Hammami, and Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian of the Religion and the Global Framing of Gender Violence project at the Columbia University Center for the Study of Social Difference (https://socialdifference.squarespace.com/projects-/religion-and-the-glob...). 

Professor Jakobsen has held fellowships from the American Association of University Women, the Udall Center for Public Policy at the University of Arizona, the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University, and the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School. She has taught as a Visiting Professor at Wesleyan University and Harvard University. Before entering the academy, she was a policy analyst and organizer in Washington, D.C.

  • Ph.D., Emory University, Ethics and Society, Graduate Division of Religion
  • M.A., School of Theology at Claremont
  • A.B. Dartmouth College, Highest Distinction in Philosophy and Distinction in Economics

  • Feminist theory
  • Queer theory
  • Religion and politics
  • Ethics
  • Activism
  • Public policy

  • Theorizing Activisms
  • Gendered Controversies
  • Religion, Gender, and Violence
  • Knowledge, Practice, Power
  • Feminist Theories
  • Queer Theories

Selected Publications

The Sex Obsession: Perversity and Possibility in American Politics (New York University Press, 2020)

Secularisms, edited with A. Pellegrini (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008)

Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, with A. Pellegrini (New York: New York University Press, 2003; Boston: Beacon Press, 2004, paperback edition)

Interventions: Activists and Academics Respond to Violence, edited with E. Castelli (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2004)

Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998)

“Disability, Debility, and Caring Queerly,” with Christina Crosby, Social Text, Special Issue, “Left of Queer,” ed. by David L. Eng and Jasbir Puar, Forthcoming.

“Equality of Religious Freedom,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 86.1 (March2018):      235-40.

“Gender, Sex, and Religious Freedom in the Context of Secular Law,” with Christine M. Jacobsen and Myanthi Fernando, Feminist Review, 113 (2016): 93-102.

“Visions of Justice: New Economies and New Solidarities,” Journal of the European Society of Women in Theological Research (2014).

“Collaborations,” American Quarterly, 64.4 (December 2012): 827-32.

“Perverse Justice,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 18.1 (2012): 19-28.

“Religion, Politics, and Gender Equality in the U.S.,” with Elizabeth Bernstein, Third World Quarterly,  31.6 (2010). 

“Work is Not the Only Problem,” Got Life?: Roundtable Discussion on Work-Life Balance, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 23.2 (Fall 2007).

"Different Differences: Theory and the Practice of Women's Studies," in Women's Studies for the Future: Foundations, Interrogations, Politics, ed. E. Lapovsky Kennedy and A. Beins (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006)

“Sex + Freedom = Sexual Regulation: Why?” Social Text, 84-85 (Fall/Winter 2005): 285-308.

"Sex and Freedom" (with E. Lapovsky Kennedy), in Regulating Sex, ed. E. Bernstein and L. Schaffner (New York: Routledge Press, 2005)

"Can Homosexuals End Western Civilization as We Know It?: Family Values in a Global Economy," in Queer Globalization/Local Homosexualities, ed. A. Cruz- Malavé and M. Manalansan (New York: New York University Press, 2002)

"Queer Is? Queer Does?: Normativity and Resistance," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 4 (1998)

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