Forward to the Land: land rights and reform for a new rural economy

Samson Hart’s dissertation – part of his MA: Economics in Transition at Schumacher College (2016/17) – explores “the emerging and potential land rights initiatives that can support a transition to a thriving ruralism and ecological agriculture”.

Samson would welcome feedback.  To contact him, please email him at samsonhart1@gmail.com

Abstract as follows:

“. . . . Through investigating the current movement for land rights, with interviews and direct observations of actors involved, it will attempt to draw out the relevant themes and central issues facing the movement for land rights, and its ability to push for a new rural economy.

The main conclusion is that for change to come, there needs to be many layers of action. A movement must be built through individuals in the grassroots, and communities must access land where possible, support each other, and be willing to work with institutions. Centralised change must come, through specific policy and eventually through more systemic change, localising power and enabling people onto the land through a reinvigoration of democratic institutions.”

The dissertation includes a thorough review of the literature; semi-structured interviews with key people involved in the movement for land reform. It’s optimistic in its approach, exploring “the relationship between crisis and opportunity, the routes and preventatives for land-based livelihoods, the stories of success, the need for building a movement. . . the importance of governance and ownership of land.”

There’s a huge amount here.  It’s obviously more than an academic exercise for Samson as the whole process becomes part of his personal journey.

“. . .  as somebody raised in an urban setting, disconnected from any idea of a rural, land-based livelihood, but also as somebody keen to learn how to live from the land, left me deeply placed within this question. Thus the experience of this research has been transformative. It has brought to light the existence of a movement which had only really lurked in the shadows of my awareness. I was constantly confronted by people who had found a way to build their own livelihood through their connection to the land, but who were also completely engaged with the wider struggle for the rebuilding of rural life. Witnessing this coexistence of an alternative way of living, and a deep commitment to fighting for systemic change, left me energised and empowered. I feel a responsibility to dedicate my time to fighting for the rights of people to live on the land. To reiterate Colin Tudge’s words: we may not feel optimistic, but we must never give up hope.”

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