I am a historian of Latin America and the Caribbean, specializing in gender studies and the history of race, health, and medicine. Overall, I'm interested in how health gets politicized and how people make care decisions accordingly. My current book project, Atlantic Antidote: Race, Gender, and the Birth of the First Vaccine, takes up these questions through a history of smallpox vaccination in the age of revolution.
In it, I argue that we cannot understand the history of vaccination without addressing the role of race and reproductive politics in its creation and maintenance. Drawing on archival research and feminist theory, I foreground the enslaved and free mothers who (willingly or not) provided access to their children, whom doctors relied upon to incubate and conserve the vaccine across imperial lines. In turn, I analyze how vaccination became embedded in struggles over abolition, parental rights, and the very meaning of consent, highlighting the gender and racial politics of vaccine development and its contested relationship to slavery, freedom, and motherhood in the early modern world. Ultimately, the project reflects on our own use of vaccines to curtail epidemics and offers new insights into ongoing debates about vaccine hesitancy, particularly as they relate to issues of race, power, and the purpose of public health.
You can read more about my research on the history of slavery and vaccination here and here.
I am passionate about teaching and mentorship and teach history and interdisciplinary courses on gender studies; science, medicine, and technology; race, slavery, and emancipation; and colonial and modern Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, I am a research associate in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University and a CHCI-ACLS fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh.