07 Sep 2021
Professor Jessica Shoemaker’s article Fee Simple Failures: Rural Landscapes and Race was published in the Michigan Law Review.
The article addresses the evolution of agricultural land ownership in the United States, with a focus on how intentional racial exclusion in historic property systems contributes to the current condition of 98 percent of agricultural land still being owned by people who are white. But it also explores how land ownership regimes intended to create widely dispersed ownership of agrarian land have instead resulted in increasingly dynastic, absentee, and concentrated land ownership. Professor Shoemaker argues that these land patterns result from intentional property law choices (that can be critiqued and changed) and that this foundation is at the root of the overlapping crises of racial injustice, climate change, and rural decline.
The article was also digested by The Rural Review, an online journal produced in conjunction with the Rural Reconciliation Project.