International perspectives on land reform: rural change and the question of justice

Convenor: Dr. A. McKee, Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS), The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH.



Allocation of land rights, and struggles for access to land and natural resources are common world-wide, most visible in recent analyses of the global land grab. Localised land monopolies and the investment of external capital can create high land prices, increase social inequalities and have negative environmental impacts. Historic case studies demonstrate that land reform relies on (amongst other things) the removal of patriarchy and associated exercise of power (e.g. including supporting women’s rights to land ownership and inheritance). Land reforms are recognised as a route to ensure food security and social welfare by governments, and political democracy is emphasised. The role of redistributive land reform is debated in the literature and within countries underpinned by concentrated private property, such as Scotland, which has recently legislated to continue land reform measures with the aim of empowering rural communities and narrowing inequalities. This working group seeks to develop understanding and knowledge regarding international processes of land reform, their associated drivers, and the implications for land owners, land users and rural communities of these reforms. Theoretical perspectives and comparative case studies are welcomed.


This working group will comprise short presentations of new research, concluding with a facilitated mini-workshop to summarize the key themes and questions emerging from the research presented. The discussion and outcomes of the mini-workshop will be recorded by the convenor and circulated as a starting-point for future collaborations and joint publications, as well as published as a blog post by the James Hutton Institute SEGS group blog (see: