Edinburgh University Press recently published an edited collection about land reform in Scotland. I was one of the editors of this book, Land Reform in Scotland: History, Law and Policy, alongside a dream team of co-editors, Jayne Glass and Annie Tindley.
As might be apparent from the book’s subtitle, it has three constituent elements. It looks at land law reform from historical, legal and geography/policy perspectives. Owing to its interdisciplinary nature, the various editors took the lead in relation to our respective areas of expertise (Annie for history, me for law, Jayne for policy). We hope this works to bring the subject to life for readers from all disciplines, or indeed no discipline.
Details of the book can be found on EUP’s website at https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-land-reform-in-scotland.html.
My Twitter thread about the book and its contents can be found here. I don’t intend to rehash that thread fully here, but I will offer a few quick points about the book just for those who can’t be gassed with Twitter, and I will also take a moment to log more detailed thanks to a number of institutions.
The book begins with a short introduction by Jayne, Annie and me. Then there is the history section, comprising five chapters of Scottish insight, and also comparative Irish insight, bearing in mind Irish land reform also happened within the (then) UK. There are chapters on: the strange survival of the Scottish land question; land, labour and capital in early modern Scotland; agrarian radicalism; enlightenment and improvement; and conceptions of landownership. The law section begins with a chapter that straddles the law/history division, considering the history of land transfer in Scotland, before looking at more contemporary land reforms in general, then through the lenses of property theory, human rights and sustainable development. Specific chapters then look at landlord and tenant law in residential, agricultural and crofting (Highlands and Islands) contexts. Lastly, the policy section considers the planning regime, a bit more on crofting law and a recent reform to it, the implications of the size of estates on sustainable management, and Scottish and Norwegian agricultural models (and what those places can learn from each other).
In terms of thank yous, and further to the acknowledgements that feature in the book, The Centre for Mountain Studies at Perth College UHI, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and the Centre for Scotland’s Land Futures provided funding for a workshop activity that underpinned the writing of the book and gave a subvention to EUP to allow for its publication in a somewhat expanded form. Big up to them. Thanks also to the School of Law at the University of Aberdeen, for its support of an event that allowed some of the themes in this book to be aired, and also for contributing to the subvention to the publisher. This financial support continued even though I handed in my notice and made the switcheroo to the University of Strathclyde: I really do need to put my thanks to Professor Greg Gordon (the Head of the School of Law at the University of Aberdeen) on the record for not throwing his toys out of the pram, or indeed at me, and still making this contribution.
Finally, thanks to the team at Edinburgh University Press for all their efforts, and to the reviewer who read the book in its entirety to ensure it flowed. I am not sure if I am allowed to publicly say who that was. If you are reading this, Mr or Ms Reviewer, please take note of this public thanks nevertheless. Oh, and thanks of course to the people who wrote the chapters. Yeah, that helped – without you there definitely wouldn’t have been a nice, shiny book.
For the super keen land reform fans, there may be a few events relating to the book in the coming months, subject of course to any cancellation owing to much more important events in the world happening. I’ll try to keep you posted of these on my blog and/or via social media in due course.
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