Dr. Giovanna Vitelli is the Director of the University Engagement Programme at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, an initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which is tasked with integrating collections teaching into the university’s mainstream curriculum. Dr. Vitelli received her PhD in archaeology from the University of Reading, and her BA in anthropology from Harvard University. She has contracted as an archaeologist to organisations such as UNESCO, to private heritage foundations in the UK, and to the Québec Ministry of Culture in Canada, in particular looking at cultural and religious hybridity in colonial settings.
Dr Vitelli’s research interests centre on ethnographic collecting, colonialism, and tourism, and their effects on practice, belief, and knowledge. Arising out of this work, she has published thematically across Indigenous and colonial domains, looking at cultural interaction, religious practice, healing and well-being, and the materiality of coexistence. Her primary interest remains the modalities of the experience of religion and well-being among early New England colonists and New England tribes. Her research has taken her across New England and south-eastern Canada to study antiquarian collections from small historical societies and regional museums, focusing on aspects of belief, well-being, death, and burial in the shared spaces of the early colonial northeast.