This essay introduces a collection of papers that examine the effects of contemporary land reforms in practice. This essay focuses on the roles of state and community in land reform. It argues that state-led strategies encounter significant problems on the ground due to their reliance on “top-down” initiatives and bureaucratic implementation. Empirical and conceptual insights suggest the benefits of a shift in emphasis from state to community in land reform. Emphasis on community calls for a state that is more reactive to political demands originating “from below” and more responsive to variation in local institutions and practices.