Breeanna Elliott

Breeanna Elliott's picture
PhD Student
Research Areas: 
Africa; HSHM; ethnobotany; oral history; gender; Indian Ocean slave trade networks; traditional medicine and healing systems in Madagascar and Tanzania


Breeanna studies African history as a second-year doctoral student in the History of Science and Medicine (HSHM) program. She is interested in how the practice of unearthing living histories present in maintained customs, such as the foods we eat and the remedies we use, has the potential to reshape our understanding of the movement and transformation of knowledge in the face of environmental change, migration, and social upheaval.

Breeanna graduated in 2015 with honors from Harvard College with a degree in History and African and African American Studies and language citations in Spanish and Swahili. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on the legal precarity of enslaved women’s lives during the 19th and 20th century British-led abolition along the Swahili Coast. She has a passion for teaching and also earned her teacher licensure from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2015.

At present, her research lies at the intersection of oral history and ethnobotany where she can trace the complex movements of and relationships between endemic botany, trade goods, enslaved and free peoples, and knowledge systems. She is particularly interested in the production, dissemination, and destruction of health cultures and their associated practices in Madagascar and Tanzania.