Dissertation Title and Summary

How We Accomplish this Work: Black Labor and US Imperial Public Health in the Greater Caribbean, 1898-1934

My dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of gendered Black labor across the circum-Caribbean and U.S. South during the early twentieth century. Turning to Louisiana, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, my project employs public health as a unique angle for exploring the untold histories of those whose labor has been characterized as essential but yet remain marginalized within the capitalist structures of the U.S Empire. Centering Black health, sanitation and domestic labor, Black experiences of illness, injury and disability, and U.S. imperial health regulations, I analyze how gender and race are embedded in public health and U.S. territorial expansion across the Caribbean. Through a regionally and temporally focused exploration of Black labor, gender and health, this dissertation offers broader critiques of the continued post-emancipation commodification of Black bodies, disability history’s Eurocentrism, and U.S imperialism in the Caribbean, executed through the guise of benevolence.


Danielle LaPlace is a Ph.D. candidate in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received a B.A. in French and International Studies (2010) from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Masters of Development Practice (2014) from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Following her Australian adventure, she returned to her home country of St. Kitts and Nevis and served briefly as the Executive Officer in the Department of Gender Affairs. Danielle then completed a Masters in Women’s and Gender Studies in 2019 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her current research examines gendered Black labor, public health and U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean in the early twentieth century.


Sechrist, S. M., Laplace, D. T., & Smith, P. H. (2022). North Carolina LGBTQ Domestic Violence Response Initiative: Building Capacity to Provide Safe, Affirming Services. Health Education & Behavior, 49(6), 949–959. https://doi.org/10.1177/10901981211067167