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Alejandro Villanueva-Hernandez

Alejandro Villanueva-Hernandez

Visiting Scholar


He completed his B.A. in Philosophy at the Benemérita University of Puebla (BUAP), Mexico. His undergraduate research supervised by Prof. Martha Garcia Amero, focused on the relation between the notions of reason and passion in David Hume’s thought. This work was acknowledged as the best philosophical undergraduate dissertation of his generation. Later, he was awarded with the National University of Mexico (UNAM) scholarship to pursue his M.A. in Ethnomusicology at the Faculty of Music of the UNAM. On his M.A. dissertation, supervised by Dr. Gonzalo Camacho Díaz, he investigated the musical practices of Totonacos, an indigenous community from Northern of Puebla, Mexico. He focused on the recovery and diversification of Totonacos´ musical repertoire that took place over the last past few decades. He argued that this musical recovery process can be interpreted as a social and cultural response of this indigenous community to certain political and religious events occurred in Northern of Puebla over that period of time. This research was awarded an Honorable Mention.

He is currently a PhD student in Philosophy of Science at the UNAM funded by the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) Scholarship. On his PhD thesis he explores how models of niche construction can be relevant to explain the emergence of music as the result of the confluence of several entangled processes that could have taken place over our evolutionary human history: processes of co-evolution and co-construction of artifacts, biological and cultural environments, and cognitive capacities. This ideas form the basis of his PhD research project which is supervised by Dr. Sergio F. Martínez Muñóz.

Luis Alejandro Villanueva came to the Faculty of Music of the University of Cambridge to work part of his research project under the supervision of Prof. Ian Cross in the Centre for Music and Science.

He also has lectured in Philosophy of Science and in Ethnomusicology at the Benemérita University of Puebla (BUAP), México. He has been a guest speaker at the Department of Cultural Anthropology of the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he gave a talk about Totonaco’s musical practices. He has also been a speaker at various International Conferences in Europe, Mexico and South America. He has organized the 1st and 2nd Ethnomusicology Conference at the Benemérita University of Puebla (BUAP), Mexico.

He is also an active musician. He plays a wide range of traditional musical instruments from Mexico and South America such as jarana huasteca, quinta huapanguera, jarana jarocha, guitarra de son, vihuela, violin, quena, zampoñas, charango, guitar, among others. He has been a member of various musical ensembles with which he has recorded several albums. Nowadays he is a member of a Mexican musical ensemble called Tsasná, which means moonlight in Totonac language. Tsasná promote and investigate mainly the traditional music from the Huastec region of Mexico. As a member of Tsasná, Alejandro Villanueva has recorded two albums that highlight the musical diversity and broad repertoire of the Trio Huasteco in the Municipality of Huehuetla, Puebla. These albums were sponsored by the Mexican National Council for Culture and Arts as well as by the Ministry of Culture of the State of Puebla. Along with Tsasná he has also performed in many prestigious international music festivals in Mexico, Europe, and Asia. Some of these cultural trips has been partially sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the State of Puebla and by the BUAP.

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