’S Leinn Fhèin am Fearann (The land is ours)

’S Leinn Fhèin am Fearann (The land is ours)
Fiona Mackenzie
11.10.12

Abstract

This paper tells a story of the community’s purchase of the North Harris Estate, Isle of Harris, Scotland, bringing the land under collective ownership where previously it was held by an individual as a ‘private’ estate. At the broadest level the paper contributes conceptually to research whose objective is to challenge the inevitability of global imaginaries. Situated in the specific context of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, such action as that of the North Harris Trust has the potential to disturb global narratives of enclosure and privatisation. In recounting the story, the argument centres on the political possibilities of the land. In parallel with arguments concerning ‘place’, I examine how the re-creation of a collective, place-based identity in the new political spaces afforded by the North Harris Trust is linked to the process of negotiating the meanings of the land. The meanings of the land relate both to the mediation of historically resonant collective rights to the land and to how ‘nature’ is constituted in the search for socially just and sustainable futures. The focus is on the principles and everyday practices through which land and community are coproduced.