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Alessia Frassani

Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar


PhD Student
City University of New York

Photo: Alessia  Frassani

Alesia Frassani received a Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar award in Summer 2008 to support research on The Celebrations of Holy Week and Mayordoma in Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca. Colonial Art and History in a Mixtec Village. At the time, she was a PhD student in the Department of Art History at the City University of New York.

Frassani's research interests include a study of 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’shouse. 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, she considers form (pragmatics, context, enunciation) as a basic underlying principle of Mesoamerican divinatory practice, old and new.



Title of Research : The Celebrations of Holy Week and Mayordoma in Santo Domingo Yanhuitlan, Oaxaca. Colonial Art and History in a Mixtec Village

While at UNM, Frassani drew upon library archives to examine rare books, magazines, unpublished documents and ethnographic material from the Oaxacan Collection in order to reconstruct the role Catholic religion and ritual play in Mixtec society.