Dr. A. (Alessia) Frassani

  • Researcher

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I have PhD in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. After a BA in Visual Arts from the University of Bologna (Italy), I completed a Masters in Archaeology and History of Native American Peoples at Leiden University.

Between 2010 and 2013, I was an assistant professor in the Art Department of the Universidad de los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia, for three years, where I taught courses and directed theses in pre-Columbian and colonial Latin American art. 

My current project studies Mazatec chants and ancient pictography in comparative perspective. Chanting in contemporary Mazatec communities of Oaxaca, Mexico, plays an important role during curing rituals, carried out at night in the privacy of the curandero’s house. Its aim is to diagnose, guide, and ultimately cure the suffering person. In ancient times, religious manuscripts served a similar purpose of helping and guiding the diviners in dealing with sickness, social conflicts, and agricultural fertility. While most studies focus on modern texts as providers of content information for understanding ancient pictography, I consider form (pragmatics, context, enunciation) as a basic underlying principle of Mesoamerican divinatory practice, old and new.

On the web:



Older publications (prior to entering Leiden U):

  • “Teatro de la memoria. Los retablos de la iglesia de Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán, Oaxaca”. Boletín de Monumentos Históricos no. 29 (2013): 37-51.

  • “The Convento of Yanhuitlan and its Altarpiece: Patronage and the Making of a Colonial Iconography in 16th-Century Mixteca Alta”. Colonial Latin American Review 22, no. 1 (April, 2013): 67-97.

  • “El centro monumental de Yanhuitlán y su arquitectura: Un proceso histórico y ritual”. Desacatos no. 42 (2013): 145-160.

  • “At the Crossroads of Empire: Urban Form and Ritual Action in Colonial Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca”. Getty Research Journal no. 4 (2012): 31-44.

  • “Pilgrimage and the Temple of Death in the Ancient Mexican Manuscripts”. In Visualizing Rituals: Critical Analysis of Art and Ritual Practice, ed. Julia Werts, 22-32. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.

Last Modified: 01-02-2016