Elise Mitchell holds a Ph.D. in history from New York University and a B.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work examines the social and cultural histories of enslaved Africans and their descendants, focusing on the history of the body, gender, public health and medicine in the early modern Caribbean and Atlantic World before 1800. Mitchell is working on a book manuscript about enslaved Africans’ social, political and therapeutic responses to smallpox epidemics and how they endured and contested European public health and medical interventions in the Caribbean region. She is also developing a digital history project based on her research database of over 300 smallpox outbreaks, which occurred among enslaved people on Spanish, Portuguese, French and British ships, and Caribbean islands and coastal territories, between roughly 1518 and 1806. Mitchell is advised by Keith Wailoo, the Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs.
She is one of twelve scholars named Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows. The program, overseen by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, is intended to recognize and support scholars who can contribute to the University’s diversity, broadly defined, including groups that have been historically and are presently underrepresented in the academy or in certain disciplines.
Photo courtesy of Elise Mitchell