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Ghislaine Van der Ploeg

Could you tell us a little about your time at Warwick?
I came to Warwick to pursue an M.A. following an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow. I had realised during my time at Glasgow that I wanted to focus on ancient Roman socio-religious history and also epigraphy, which is the study of inscriptions (writings on stone etc). Warwick was the best place to do this as I really wanted to work with Prof. Alison Cooley who based at Warwick and who specialises in these fields. She was very supportive during my M.A. and encouraged me to apply for a PhD position under her supervision. Throughout my PhD she has been very supportive and gave fantastic help and guidance.

What does your new role in Finland involve?
I am working as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tampere as a part of a research team examining the ancient Italian harbour city of Ostia (located about 20km away from Rome). We examine issues of identity, segregation, and multiculturality in an ancient setting and investigate how established and incoming cultures interacted within the built environment, material and literary culture, over a millennium, in terms of their political, social, and religious life, both in the local community and in the central hub of Mediterranean travel.

My particular research focuses on epigraphy, mainly inscriptions written on stone but also graffiti. I am interested in how people expressed and displayed their identities in inscriptions having moving from one place to another, especially from the Roman province of Africa to Ostia. I also focus on the expression of emotion and age in epitaphs. Following a research period in Ostia, I am now based in Tampere where I spent most of the time researching and preparing my work for oral and written presentation at conferences and in articles. Later on this year I shall go back to Rome for another period of site-based research there as well as presenting my work at a conference organised by my project at the Finnish and Swedish academies and I shall also be presenting my work at Gothenburg and hopefully in the UK this year. Without the support to achieve my PhD from Warwick, I would never have got this amazing job!