Arielle Xena Alterwaite

Arielle Xena Alterwaite

Ph.D. Candidate

I am a Ph.D. candidate who studies slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic world with a focus on France and its empire. In Spring 2021, I completed my General Examinations in "European History, 1650-1914," "Modern Intellectual History," "Race, Slavery, and Abolition," and "Legacies of the Haitian Revolution." I am broadly interested in histories of political economy, capitalism, national sovereignty, abolition, reparations, and imperialism.

My dissertation addresses the specific case of the 1825 Haitian Indemnity, where I explore Haiti's sovereign debt in the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution and argue for the international significance of the debt for finance, monetary systems, nation-making, and political thought in the first half of the nineteenth century. My research is supported by the Social Science Research Council's Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, a Chateaubriand Fellowship from the French Embassy, a Lapidus Center Fellowship at the Schomburg Center, an Interamericas Fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library, a Gustave Gimon Fellowship at Stanford University Libraries, a short-term fellowship at the Huntington Library, and the Economic History Association, among other sources. 

My writing about art and history has been published in The American Historical Review, Slavery & Abolition and the Los Angeles Review of Books

Prospective students, please contact me if you have questions about studying at Penn!

Advisor: Sophia Rosenfeld

Committee Members: Warren Breckman, Kathleen Brown, Roquinaldo FerreiraMarc Flandreau


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

M.A., History, UPenn, 2020

Research Interests

slavery and abolition; race; the Atlantic World, particularly the Caribbean; 18th and 19th century France and its empire; political economy; financial history; modern intellectual history

Courses Taught

HIST 344: European Intellectual History, 1870-1950

HIST 133: The History of Free Speech & Censorship 

HIST 001: Making the Modern World 

HIST 153 / URB 104: Transformations of Urban America, 1945-Present

Selected Publications

"Slavery and Social Debt," The American Historical Review (2023)

"Slavery on Display," Slavery & Abolition (2023)

"Biddy Mason in Images: A Monumental Life in Monumental Forms," LARB (2021)