Tyler Stovall: White Freedom

Dr. Tyler Stovall's White Freedom explores the intertwined histories of racism and freedom in France and the United States, the two leading nations that have claimed liberty as the heart of their national identities.

Stovall examines how French and American thinkers defined freedom in racial terms and conceived of liberty as an aspect and privilege of whiteness. He also discusses how the Statue of Liberty―a gift from France to the United States and perhaps the most famous symbol of freedom on Earth―promised both freedom and whiteness to European immigrants. The era of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to our modern conceptions of freedom and democracy, was also the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. America, founded on the principle of liberty, was also built on African slavery, Native American genocide, and systematic racial discrimination.

Stovall traces the complex relationship between freedom and race from the Age of Revolution to today, challenging the notion that racism is somehow a paradox or contradiction within the democratic tradition, and demonstrating how white identity is intrinsic to Western ideas about liberty. Throughout the history of modern Western liberal democracy, freedom has long been white freedom. Stovall provides an important perspective on the inherent racism behind our most cherished beliefs about freedom, liberty, and human rights.


George Hammond


MLF: Humanities


Image - Tyler Stovall

Tyler Stovall

Ph.D., Professor of History, and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Fordham University; Author, White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates