The Long Land War The Global Struggle for Occupancy Rights Jo Guldi

Yale Agrarian Studies Series
Publication date:
10 May 2022
Yale University Press
600 pages: 235 x 156 x 40mm
15 b-w illus.

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A definitive history of ideas about land redistribution, allied political movements, and their varied consequences around the world

The Long Land War tells the story of a global struggle to bring food, water, and shelter to all. Reviewing movements for giving reparations in land to formerly colonized people, marches to control the cost of rent for urban tenants, indigenous land movements, the machinations of development analysts, and the squatters who took matters into their own hands, the book traces the origins of modern proposals for state-engineered “land reform” from Ireland in 1881 through their assassination by the United States in 1974.  
The book peers into the success and failure of postcolonial programs to protect small farmers in dialogue with the United Nations, World Bank, private institutions, and grassroots movements alike. Touching on the promise and pitfalls of modern ideologies—including international bureaucracies, market ideology, nonviolent protest, and participatory democracy—Jo Guldi provides a definitive narrative of land redistribution and offers an unflinching critique of its failures, working out the promise of politics for how we own property, govern, and adjudicate justice on a changing planet.

Jo Guldi is associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University, where she teaches courses on the history of Britain, the British Empire, modern development policy, and property law. She lives in Richardson, Texas.

“An epic work of breathtaking scope and moral power, The Long Land War offers the definitive account of the rise and fall of land rights around the world over the last 150 years. Jo Guldi’s global history of property tells the story of some of the most important social transformations of the 20th century, from land reform and mass evictions to the rise of corporate agriculture and resistance movements fighting for the right to land and housing. Read this amazing achievement: an intellectual tour de force, a poetics of tragedy and hope, and a call to action connecting insights from the past to the great challenges of our time.”—Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City  

“Jo Guldi invites us to consider the enduring relevance of the global movement for a just distribution of land and of its innovative technologies of information management in the face of climate change and environmental racism.”—Deborah R. Coen, author of Climate in Motion: Science, Empire, and the Problem of Scale

“Jo Guldi offers a compelling, extremely innovative account of the major movements for land in the late-nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries—one that could not be more timely.”—Jess Gilbert, author of the award-winning Planning Democracy: Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal

"It is said we can’t own the land; the land owns us. Jo Guldi's The Long Land War is a tour-de-force that sets the land into its philosophical, colonial, spiritual, and practical contexts.”—Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power  

"The Long Land War is an exhilarating read. It puts the struggle for land rights at the heart of progressive politics in the context of the climate crisis and rampant inequality. This is a profound, elegant, globe-spanning, and ultimately hopeful book."—Sunil Amrith, author of Unruly Waters