chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

WithEsther Kingston-Mann

This chapter discusses an understanding economic change of any kind requires one's to include majorities in the author research and analysis, and the omission of rural women from the historical record prevents one's from attending to the specific kinds of experience—the introduction of rural innovations. It considers how the investigation of women and land rights—in particular, the circumstances under which rural women exercised economic and political agency—suggests new possibilities for productive and gender-inclusive development, strategy, and policy. In seventeenth-century England, enclosure advocates offered the rural population a choice between "backwardness" and a system of exclusive, fixed, and private land rights. In England and Russia, lands owned by a male household head during growing season became common grazing land available for gleaning by women after harvest; the commons then reverted back to the original male owner. Everywhere, male councils—the English jury, the Russian skhod and the kiama among the Kikuyu in Kenya—acknowledged temporary, overlapping, collective, and individual claims to ownership.