Kristin McFadden

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 10525

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

McFadden, Kristin (Stanford U.) "Contested Land: Black Land Dispossession and Citizenship in the American South"

In the rural American South, land dispossession is facilitated by a number of bureaucratic and legal processes that work in tandem with heirs property, a legal categorization that allows for the passing of property between generations without one legally designated owner. Heirs property landowners are at increased risk of land dispossession due to stark increases in taxes, forced partition sales, and adverse possession. This project seeks to investigate the precarity of Black land dispossession in the South Carolina Low Country with particular attention to heirs property as a multifunctional legal and political category. I examine Black land dispossession as a condition within the afterlife of American chattel slavery and seek to understand the salience of land to African American understandings of citizenship and further how land serves as a broader analytic to understand how African Americans perceive citizenship rights and actions. As a collective rather than an individual category, heirs property may trouble foundational American logics as related to citizenship rights and property ownership. I additionally investigate state interest in heirs property for infrastructural and economic development. Lastly, this research examines Black landowners interactions with American bureaucratic systems related to property ownership.