Westenley Alcenat, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of History, Fordham University
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Term 2020-2021

Wes Alcenat is a historian of the 19th century U.S and Caribbean. His scholarship covers the shared histories of African-Americans and Afro-Caribbean peoples in connection with the wider African Diaspora in the Atlantic World. His manuscript in revision, “Children of Africa, Shall Be Haytians:” Prince Saunders and the Foundations of Black Emigration to Haiti, 1815-1865 is a study of the radicalism and ideologies of African-American settlers who emigrated to Haiti in the 19th century.

Wes’s academic interests have intersected with public history and equity in higher education to highlight the histories of marginalized groups inside the university and provide critical policy recommendations. Since 2015, he has served as an Academic Director in the Great Books Summer Reading Program at Amherst College. Wes has taught undergraduate courses and seminars on various topics, including Black Urban Political History, Merchants and Slaves in Atlantic Capitalism, the Radical Tradition in U.S History, and the “Modern Caribbean: From Columbus to Castro/From Slave Ships to Cruise Ships.” 

Wes is a past recipient of the Richard Hofstadter Fellowship from Columbia University. He has been awarded fellowships from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Hoover Institute’s Library and Archives, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC)-Mellon Mays Graduate Initiative Grants, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Schomburg Center for Research in African-American Culture. In 2015-16 he was a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an associate fellow at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH) at Harvard University. He is currently a residential Postdoctoral Research Associate at The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University’s MacMillan Center. Wes has written or provided commentary for The Nation, The Jacobin Magazine, Theroot.com, and The Immanent Frame. He is also a contributing guest writer for the Black Perspectives Blog, the official publication of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). Wes is a native of Haiti and spent his formative years in the Lyndale neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He now lives in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn with B.B King, his beloved pet rabbit of 8 years.