Land reform and redistribution in Europe and the US

Venus Bivar's picture

I'm looking for information on twentieth-century land reform and land redistribution programs in both Europe and the United States. I know the French case and am trying to figure out how it compares. The two primary programs in France worked as follows: a community could request assistance from the state (by way of a surveyor and financial aid) to redraw their its cadastral map; a land bank monitored sales in agricultural lands and bought up parcels and resold them (with discounted transaction costs) in order to create larger, more "rational" farms. The former program was initiated by the communities themselves (though not without a lot of disagreement as a simple majority vote was all that was needed to get the ball rolling), while the latter was a top-down initiative that garnered a lot of negative attention in particular for its right to preempt sales on the free market. The idea behind both initiatives was to create larger, modernised holdings. 


If anyone has any information on how this situation compares to other national experiences, I would love to hear from you.



Venus Bivar

History Department

Washington University in St. Louis

I would recommend you have a look at Paul Brassley, 'Land reform and allocation in interwar Europe', in  Rosa Congost and Rui Santos (eds), Contexts of property in Europe. The social embeddedness of property rights in land in historical context (Brepols, 2010), pp. 145-64.



I am not sure if this is the sort of thing you are looking for or not - For Eastern Europe something like David Mitrany's 'The Land and the Peasant in Rumania' remains probably the best account of the attempt at land reform in Romania. There is a huge amount of detail in it. Henry L Roberts 'Rumania: Political Problems of an Agrarian State' is also good. Katherine Verdery's 'Transylvanian Villages' gives a good account of peasant experiences of land reform based on fieldwork carried on in the 70s and 80s.

Tomasevich 'Peasants, Politics, and Economic Change in Yugoslavia' is good on the first Yugoslavia. Something like Joseph Rothschild's 'Eastern-Central Europe between the wars' gives a basic over-view for each state and would be worth looking at.

Hope this helps.