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Loka Ashwood


Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015

M.Litt., Geography, National University of Ireland, 2009

B.S., Journalism and Political Science, Northwestern University, 2007



Professor Ashwood studies how the state works, often to the ire of rural people. Her book, For-Profit Democracy: Why the Government is Losing the Trust of Rural America (Yale 2018), pinpoints corporate-state land takings as a motivator of rural unrest across racial lines. Her related research pulls apart corporations and property rights to understand environmental injustices. Specifically, she studies monopoly power, eminent domain, corporate landownership, and Right-to-Farm laws. She is especially interested in how social action works, and uses community-based research to find pathways for change not predicated on state support.

Ashwood's work feeds into the One Rural collective at University of Kentucky.



Selected Publications:



Bell, M., L. Ashwood, I. Leslie*, L. Hanson Schlachter*. 2020. An Invitation to Environmental Sociology. 6th Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press.

Ashwood, L. 2018.  For-Profit Democracy: Why the Government is Losing the Trust of Rural America. Yale University Press. Agrarian Studies Series.

Bell, M. M. and L. Ashwood. 2016. An Invitation to Environmental Sociology. 5th Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press.


Special Issue Editor/Introduction:

Journal of Rural Studies, Special Issue “Rural as a Dimension of Environmental Injustice.” Volume 47 A. Co-editor with Kate MacTavish.  

Ashwood, L. and Kate MacTavish. 2016. “Tyranny of the Majority and Rural Environmental Injustice.” Journal of Rural Studies 47(A): 271-277.


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

Ashwood, L., J. Canfield*(co-first author), M. Fairbairn, K. De Master. 2022. “What owns the land: the corporate organization of farmland investment.” Journal of Peasant Studies 49(2): 233-262.

  • Lead Article

Diamond, D. and L. Ashwood 2022. “Defenders of Rural Illinois’ Communities and Environment.” In: Ramos et al. (eds.), Policy Matters. Special Issue on Environmental Defenders. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 22(1): 114-116.

Ashwood, L. 2021. “‘No matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or neither’: Pragmatic Politics in opposition to industrial animal production.” Journal of Rural Studies 82: 586-594.

Fairbairn, M., J. LaChance*, K. De Master, and L. Ashwood. 2021. “In vino veritas, in aqua lucrum: Farmland investment, environmental uncertainty, and groundwater access in California’s Cuyama Valley.” Agriculture and Human Values 38: 285-299.

Ashwood, L., D. Diamond, and F. Walker*. 2019. “Property Rights and Rural Justice: A Study of U.S. Right-to-Farm Laws.” Journal of Rural Studies 67: 120-129.

Ashwood, L. 2018. "Rural Conservatism or Anarchism? The Pro-State, Stateless and Anti-State Positions.” Rural Sociology 83(4): 717-748.

  • Lead Article and Top 20 downloaded articles, 2017-2018

Ashwood, L. and M.M. Bell. 2017. “Affect and Taste: Bourdieu, Traditional Music, and the Performance of Possibilities.” Sociologia Ruralis 57(S1): 622-640.

Ashwood, L., N. Harden, M. M. Bell, and W. Bland. “Linked and Situated: Grounded Knowledge.” 2014. Rural Sociology 79(4): 427-452.

  • Rural Sociology 2015 Best Paper Award and Lead Article.

Ashwood, L., D. Diamond, and K. Thu. “Where’s the Farmer? Limiting Liability in Midwest Industrial Hog Production.” 2014. Rural Sociology 79(1): 2-27.