Giovanna Vitelli is an historical archaeologist with an anthropological approach to past human experience, examining the intersect of religion, well-being, and the transmission of tradition and knowledge. Giovanna is the former Director of the University Engagement Programme (UEP) at the Ashmolean Museum, a $2.1m Andrew W. Mellon-supported teaching and research programme aimed at expanding the use of museum collections in the mainstream university curriculum. She has excavated, surveyed and published medieval and early modern sites in North Africa, North America and the UK, looking at cultural interaction, Indigenous-Settler coexistence, and knowledge exchange. She has contracted as an archaeologist to organisations such as UNESCO, the Québec Ministry of Culture, and to private heritage foundations in the UK.
Continuing on from her role as Director of the UEP, Giovanna maintains a keen scholarly interest in promoting cross-disciplinary intellectual engagement with material culture. She was Chair of the Collections and Curation Committee of the Society for Historical Archaeology (2014-2016), an international professional body, and was co-Founder and co-Chair of the North American Consortium on Collections Management (2012-2014). She is now on the Council of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology. In these roles, she has been committed to seeing the reanimation of museum and archival collections through creative cross-disciplinary study. Her long-standing experience in teaching with and across all the Oxford University Museums collections has informed her approach to collections study.
Giovanna's recent practice-based research has focused on the development of digital affordances for object study across disciplines, critically examining the impact of digital research and study for students of diverse backgrounds. She was involved closely in developing the award-winning Cabinet digital platform at Oxford, now available as a University resource.