Arielle Xena Alterwaite

Arielle Xena Alterwaite

Ph.D. Student

I study the eighteenth- and nineteenth- century Atlantic World with an emphasis on the “French Atlantic.” I am broadly interested in the historical production of epistemologies and concepts especially as they relate to colonial and imperial structures. My current research project delves into the history of reparations and focuses on the 1825 Haitian Indemnity Debt owed to France after Haitian Independence. I am also interested alternative archival methodologies. Most recently I have explored the ways in which humor and jokes function in historical discourse and as an historical source base.

Before Penn I earned a B.A. from Columbia University in both History and Philosophy. My senior thesis on medical imaginaries and the emergence of biopolitics on eighteenth-century Saint Domingue plantations won the 2019 Lily Prize in history. 

I currently serve as co-President of Clio, the history department's graduate student organization, and co-organize a reading group on the philosophy of history. 



B.A., History (honors) and Philosophy, Columbia University, 2018

Research Interests

medicine and science; slavery; gender; race; humor; the Atlantic World; economic and cultural history; intellectual history; 18th and 19th century French, Caribbean and American history