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, and a short-term fellowship at the Huntington Library. 

At Penn, I have co-organized multiple workshops, including our department's Graduate Colloquium, lectures and reading groups. From 2019-20 I served as the Clio co-president, the department's graduate student organization. I currently contribute, as a research specialist, to the collaborative project "The Long Road to Freedom: Biddy Mason’s Remarkable Journey,” which is supported by a collaborative research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. You can read my published writing about Biddy Mason here

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