Scotland has seen a wave of “community-based” land reform in recent decades. Beginning in the Highlands with the Assynt Crofters’ Trust in 1992, community land initiatives (CLIs) have increasingly gained control of land across the country, from the Western Isles (e.g. North Harris Trust) to the outskirts of Glasgow (e.g. Neilston Development Trust). This has had public support in the form of funds, advisory bodies and legislation, and is part of a wider movement of “community asset ownership” and “community empowerment”
In case you can’t see it, the Daily Mail page quotes Robert Mugabe as saying “It seems Zimbabwe and Scotland share the same goals and ambitions when it comes to land reform” ! Of course this slide presents two highly polarised and simplified positions. My research aims to get into the much messier detail of what is actually going on on the ground where there has been community land reform.
Less polarised, but of interest and importance to those working in the area.
My starting point was wondering “what’s happening on the ground where there has been land reform?” – and in particular, the classic political question: “who is getting what?” 1. This means looking at how community organisations – in particular the land-owning body – relate to other actors outwith the community (e.g. other landowners, public bodies etc), and community access to public goods 2. In other words, who is gaining, who is losing…or is it having much impact at all?
Power: a contested concept i.e. everyone argues and has their own definition. I simplify things by thinking of power as being your capacity to do things – but this gets complex to understand because of the great many factors that affect this. I’ve no time to go into this much, but – just one illustration of what this means – the “discourses” of land reform I referred to are an example of how ‘culture’ might affect power. Whether land reform is seen as “just a Highland and Islands matter” or something of wider interest – “Big Society” linkages anyone?? - could be important for its fortunes – literally (funding!).
Community: Culture and boundaries: who decides who is in the community and who isn’t? what happens when people disagree? For a Highland example, see Katrina Brown’s work on crofter’s views on who is a “real” crofter. (Brown 2007 Reconciling moral and legal collective entitlement: Implications for community-based land reform, Land Use Policy No. 24) community empowerment and development – can it address what matters to a community? what can be done at community level, what can’t?
Although I don’t want to overstate its importance, working in a politicised area like land reform, I will have to take care as to how my work is interpreted and used by others! Just an excuse to get this cartoon in really…
If there’s no time for questions now, talk to me during the conference – I should be around all 3 days
Power, Community & Land Reform In Scotland [Tim Braunholtz Speight]
Power, community andPower, community and
land reform in Scotlandland reform in Scotland
Tim Braunholtz-SpeightTim Braunholtz-Speight
PhD student (part-time)PhD student (part-time)
UHI Centre for Remote and Rural StudiesUHI Centre for Remote and Rural Studies
Inverness College UHIInverness College UHI
UHI Research and Postgraduate ConferenceUHI Research and Postgraduate Conference
COMMUNITIES, COASTS AND MOUNTAINSCOMMUNITIES, COASTS AND MOUNTAINS
Wednesday 27th – Friday 29th October 2010Wednesday 27th – Friday 29th October 2010
Moray College UHI, ElginMoray College UHI, Elgin
A wave of community land reform
• From Assynt Crofters’ Trust (1992) to 150+ rural
community groups owning land/assets
• Supported by Scottish Land Fund, HIE Community Land
Unit, and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act
• Highly charged debate over meaning and achievements
of land reform
Discourses of land reform
“Independence Day” on the
Isle of Eigg, 1997
Scottish Daily Mail front page on the
passing of Land Reform (Scotland) Act
2003Images from www.alistairmcintosh.com
Justice, liberation and
or… Injustice, oppression and
subsidising a grudgeful minority?
Discourses of land reform
A “Highlands and Islands thing”… or…developing community
assets across Scotland?
Cultybraggan camp, Comrie.
Image from Comrie Development Trust
Isle of Gigha
Image from Isle of Gigha Heritage
Is this land reform an example of community
1. in what sense(s) can “the community” be said to be
empowered, if at all?
2. within “the community”, how are the impacts of
reform distributed, and (how) have individuals been
empowered or disempowered?
• A ‘contested concept’
• A simple take on it = what you can do! - but complex to analyse
• different relations with other people (power over, power with) and in
yourself (power to, power within)
• different forms - the interplay of structure and agency – from overt
visible power to hidden ‘behind the scenes’ power and the invisible
power of structure and culture
• different domains of life (economic, social, cultural, political), wide
range of resources may matter
• place (the Elgin community? Moray? Scotland? UK?),
• interest (the crofting community? the UHI community?),
• ‘attachment’ (“my community” “where I belong”).
• how do ideas of community affect who has what power?
• what power can a community have?
Methods and methodology
• Two contrasting case studies of two
community land iniatives (CLIs)
• Mix of ethnography, qualitative
interviewing, and secondary data analysis
(quantitative and qualitative)
Where am I at? Where next?
• Completed probationary stage
• Worked on literature reviews – power,
community, land reform
• Working (some more) on methodology
• Selecting sites for short pilot study and full
• Awaiting research ethics approval