Nathan Ela

Nathan Pell Ela

Assistant Professor

Crosley Tower

A&S Political Science - 0375

Professional Summary

I study law and inequality in urban contexts, with a focus on property in U.S. cities. My current research examines how and why social reformers have promoted land use for urban agriculture as a form of social provision in Chicago and beyond. You can learn more about my work at


PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison 2018 (Sociology)

JD, Harvard Law School 2007

BA, Columbia University 2000 (Political Science)

Research and Practice Interests

State and Local Government; Land Use; Social Policy; Property; Urban Politics; Urban Sociology; Environmental Justice


Peer Reviewed Publications

Nate Ela. 2020. "The Promise of Property: Legal Optimism and Collective Efficacy in Chicago’s Urban Agriculture District." Social Problems, ,

Nate Ela. 2019. "Use-Based Welfare: Property Experiments in Chicago, 1895-1935." Social Science History, , 43(2): 319-344. ,

Nate Ela. 2017. "Litigation Dilemmas: Lessons from the Marcos Human Rights Class Action." Law & Social Inquiry, , 42(2): 479-508 ,

Other Publications

Nate Ela. 2016. Urban Commons as Property Experiment: Mapping Chicago’s Farms and Gardens . Fordham Urban Law Journal, 43(2): 247-294 ,

Book Chapter

Nate Ela and Greg Rosenberg. 2017. "Land Tenure for Urban Farming: Toward a Scalable Model." In Good Food, Strong Communities: Promoting Social Justice Through Local and Regional Food Systems, Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, eds. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press,

Courses Taught

American Courts and Judicial Process (Dept. of Political Science)

Law and Inequality in the City (Dept. of Political Science)

Land Use Law and Development (College of Law & DAAP)

Law and Capitalism in America (Dept. of Political Science & College of Law)

Land Use Law and Advocacy in Cincinnati (College of Law & DAAP)