Thomas Cushman

(781) 283-2142
B.A., Saint Michael’s College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia

Thomas Orton Cushman
Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences; Professor of Sociology

Interested in the  interdisciplinary study of rights, social theory, modernity, freedom and dissent. Founder of The Journal of Human Rights.

Thomas Cushman is Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Carlson Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. He has served as Chairman of the Wellesley Sociology Department twice.


My areas teaching and research in a quarter century at Wellesley include sociological theory, comparative sociology, genocide and human rights, and the sociology of culture (focusing especially on the relations between knowledge, ideology, and intellectuals). My books have focused on a wide range of topics, all of which can be characterized by a common theme of freedom and its repression in human societies: cultural dissidence in Russia, genocide, freedom of expression and dissent, and the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iraq. My publications include George Orwell: Into the 21st Century, with John Rodden (Paradigm, 2005); A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, editor (University of California Press, 2005); Terror, Iraq and the Left: Christopher Hitchens and His Critics, edited with Simon Cottee (New York University Press, 2008); and The Religious in Responses to Mass Atrocity, edited with Thomas Brudholm (Cambridge University Press, 2009). I am the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Human Rights (2011), which presents 60 original essays across the disciplines on all areas of human rights.

I am currently the director of The Freedom Project at Wellesley College ( I am writing broadly on the topic of freedom and dissent in the modern world. At this stage of my career, I realize that every topic that has ever interested me concerns the human struggle for freedom. So I intend to spend the rest of my career writing about freedom and, especially, about the struggles of individuals to be free from arbitrary power and coercive ideologies. My current work is a study of dissidents in modern authoritarian societies who are moral exemplars of civil courage and whose lives speak to us about the meaning of freedom  and what it means to be human.