Title: Homesteading and the American Dream

Description: This chapter, the second chapter of my book manuscript, recounts how the American Dream—the pursuit of property ownership and a home of one’s own—blossomed through the long and unbroken history of the homesteading principle in this country. It begins with the headright systems colonies used to recruit settlers in America, and continues through the famous Homestead Act of 1862, its predecessor laws and its progeny, to the present day. It shows that laws promoting this principle over centuries long constructed incentives for private citizens to perform the work of expanding the nation’s sovereign territorial jurisdiction; it thereby invested them personally in the intertwined projects of displacing non-white communities and raising the monetary value of private property.

Bio: K-Sue Park is Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches Property, Legal Theory, and a seminar entitled Land, Dispossession, and Displacement. Previously, she was the Critical Race Studies Fellow at UCLA School of Law and an Equal Justice Works Fellow and staff attorney in El Paso, where she investigated predatory mortgage lending schemes as part of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s foreclosure defense team. She received her Ph.D from the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley and her JD from Harvard Law School. She is working on a book about the development of American property law and the creation of the American real estate market through the histories of colonization and enslavement.