My current writing examines how social reformers have re-imagined and reworked rules that shape our urban landscapes, in their efforts to make cities more equitable, sustainable, and democratic.

My previous writing has explored the dilemmas raised by strategies that seek to use law, and human rights litigation in particular, as a tool for political mobilization.


Nate Ela. Forthcoming. “Use-Based Welfare: Property Experiments in Chicago, 1895-1935.” Social Science History.

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

  • Distinguished Graduate Student Paper Award, ASA Sociology of Law Section (2016)
  • Honorable Mention, Best Scholarly Article Award, ASA Section on Human Rights (2017)

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

Nate Ela, Edo Navot, and Emanuel Ubert. 2012. “Reviewing Walker’s First Year: An Agenda for the One Percent.” Social Policy 42(1):12-19.

Lauren Coyle, Nate Ela, and Zinaida Miller. 2007. “Introduction: Reveling in Resistance, Imagining Reconstruction.” Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left 3:i-v.

Book Chapter

Nate Ela and Greg Rosenberg. 2017. “Land Tenure for Urban Farming: Toward a Scalable Model.” In Community and Regional Food Systems: Identifying Innovations and Promoting Successes, Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, eds. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.


Erika Allen and Nate Ela. 2015. “Cultivating Productive Landscapes: A Vision for Urban Agriculture in the Millennium Reserve.” Chicago Food Policy Action Council. (Appendix)

Nate Ela, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Marion Reitz. 2012. “Assessing Food Systems Sustainability and Resilience.” Report by the Mayors Innovation Project to the City of Portland (OR) Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

“Cultivos Contaminados, Culturas Amenazadas: La Situación de los Transgenicos y Los Derechos Humanos en Pueblos Indígenas de Colombia.” 2009. [Lead author of report submitted by Colombian indigenous and environmental groups to th United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Issues.]

Popular Media

Nate Ela. “Ya Sabemos que el TLC es Ilegal. Ahora, ¿Qué hacer?” [“We know that the Free Trade Agreement is Illegal. Now, What to Do?”] Revista Semillas no. 40/41, Oct. 2009.

Nathan Ela. “On Salvaging.” Philippine Human Rights Update, vol. 20, no. 2, 2006.