Evolution of Land Tenure Norms


The Sequential Evolution of Land Tenure Norms

By Geoff Kushnick, Russell Gray, Fiona Jordan

Land tenure norms have long fascinated scholars of human society (de Lavaleye, 1874; Engels, 1884; Maine, 1876; Morgan 1877), as they define the relationship between people and the land, and the rules that regulate how the land can be used, possessed, and redistributed. Centuries of scholarship have painted a relatively clear picture of the diversity of land tenure norms, but a focused account of their evolution has yet to emerge. At the root of the problem is a lack of reliable historical accounts of land tenure transformations. Archaeological data may provide more depth, but it is often difficult to make direct inferences about land tenure norms (Earle, 2000). For these reasons, an alternative approach is necessary.