Fieldwork in Mexico's Mixteca Alta, a highland region in the northwestern portion of Oaxaca, immerses the researcher into a physical encounter with the imposing church complexes that stretch across the mountains. These structures bear witness to a decades-long effort by the Dominicans in the sixteenth century to build churches that would serve as centers to evangelize the local population. The most impressive of the convents is the one at Yanhuitlan, a powerful head town in the Mixteca's southeast. As Alessia Frassani explains in Building Yanhuitlan, the precinct functions as a useful case study to analyze changes in local politics and the role of art in shaping power during the colonial period. Frassani argues that the convent's multiple roles—as ritual center, school, and public building—helped define the way that different social actors negotiated access to land and economic resources. A rich array...

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