Erik Bleich

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2014/2015
discipline Political Science
Professor of Political Science & Director of International Politics and Economics Middlebury College

Research project

Restricting Racist Speech in France: How Courts Draw the Line Between Free Speech and Hate Speech


Hate speech laws are highly controversial in liberal democracies, but we know surprisingly little about the actual effect of these laws in practice. Are hate speech laws blunt tools for repressing controversial statements, have they largely failed to enforce provisions against egregious racist speech, or are they carefully-calibrated checks on harmful discourse? My project addresses these questions through a systematic study of Cour de Cassation decisions that allows me to examine in detail how courts have applied France’s laws against racist hate speech. This project will help us understand the role courts play in translating controversial hate speech laws into real-world rules about what citizens can and cannot say. It will also help us assess the merits of philosophical, legal, and political arguments that support or oppose the use of hate speech laws in liberal democracies.



Erik Bleich is Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College, Vermont, were he has served as Director of European Studies and Director of International Politics & Economics. He holds a Ph.D in Political Science from Harvard University.

Selected publications


'Media Portrayals of Minorities: Muslims in British Newspaper Headlines, 2001-2012', with H. Stonebraker, H. Nisar & R. Abdelhamid, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [online], doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2014.1002200, published 9 February 2015, pp. 1-21.


'Freedom of Expression versus Racist Hate Speech: Explaining Differences between High

Court Regulations in the USA and Europe', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 40, no. 2,

2014, pp. 283-300.


'Why Racist Associations Are Free in Some States and Banned in Others: Evidence from 10

Liberal Democracies', with F. Lambert, West European Politics, vol. 36, no. 1, 2013, pp. 122-149.


'What Is Islamophobia, and How Much Is There? Theorizing and Measuring an Emerging

Comparative Concept', American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 55, vol.12, 2011, pp. 1581-1600.


The Freedom to Be Racist? How the United States and Europe Struggle to Preserve Freedom and Combat Racism, Oxford University Press, 2011.


Muslims and the State in the Post-9/11 West, ed., Routledge, London/New York, 2010.


'The Effects of ‘Ethnic Riots’ in Liberal Democracies: Evidence from Western Europe', with C. Caeiro & S. Luehrman, European Political Science Review, vol. 2, no. 2, 2010, pp. 269-295.


'Immigration and Integration Studies in Western Europe and the United States: The Road Less Traveled and a Path Ahead', World Politics, vol. 60, n. 3, 2008, pp. 509-538.


'The Legacies of History? Colonization and Immigrant Integration in Britain and France', Theory and Society, vol. 34, no. 2, 2005, pp. 171-195.


Race Politics in Britain and France: Ideas and Policymaking since the 1960s, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New York, 2003.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Environmental Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Humanities and Social Sciences
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Environmental Science