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The Australian National University

Dr Virginia Esposito

Position: School Visitor


Research interests

Dr Esposito's research interests include ceramic artefacts, their use and provenance studies; material culture and identity; overseas Chinese; and Australian historical archaeology.


Her PhD examined ceramic collections from Chinese gold mining sites in southeast New South Wales, Australia, including those from Jembaicumbene, Flanagan's Point, Upper Adelong, Adjungbilly, and Kiandra. Her study was the first intra-site analysis of Chinese camps in Australia and also the first to compare contemporary ceramic assemblages from Chinese and non-Chinese sites within the same region. The study used traditional and non-traditional methods to expand the archaeology of the Chinese in Australia by investigating the active role of vessels in everyday life, not only within the domestic sphere but also in communal aspects of food and feasting. On a broader scale, the nature of Chinese supply networks was considered. Dr Esposito demonstrated that Western-style ceramics became appropriate substitutes for Chinese vessels, as supply systems changed. Furthermore, compositional analysis of Chinese sherds revealed that some of the brown-glazed storage jars found at the New South Wales sites, which are usually associated with southern China, may have been made in northern China. In addition, it confirmed that visual similarities in vessels do not necessarily relate to chemical similarities. Overall, this research highlighted short and long-term occupation sites, establishing that these camps were not homogenous or static settlements.


Updated: 30 April 2014/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher