Arielle Xena Alterwaite

Arielle Xena Alterwaite

Ph.D. StudentVartan Gregorian Fellow

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 hinges around 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. 

Advisor: Sophia Rosenfeld

Committee Members: Warren Breckman, Kathleen Brown, Roquinaldo FerreiraSophia Rosenfeld


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

Research Interests

slavery and abolition; gender; race; humor; the Atlantic World, particularly the Caribbean; 18th and 19th century France and its empire; political economy; intellectual history; medicine and science

Courses Taught

HIST 001: Making the Modern World 

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

CV (file)