Los Desaparecidos

Carla Gerona

This article considers the fate of people who disappeared in the early southwest. The essay explores the magnitude of destruction on the emergent borderlands, and offers a fresh perspective on Cabeza de Vaca’s exploits. While many still describe the “shipwreck” and “enslavement” of Cabeza de Vaca as an epic story of an individual who overcame all odds to survive in unknown lands, I offer a new take that connects Cabeza de Vaca’s expedition to earlier Spanish entries, as well as Hernando de Soto’s followup incursion into Mississippian lands. Instead of romanticizing Cabeza de Vaca and the three other “survivors,” I show that the men created a trail of destruction that caused disappearances for Spaniards and Indians alike. This article aims to see past the heroic veneers to uncover the disappearances caused. This legacy of desaparecidosthe disappearedwas a central component of the borderlands that continues to mark borderlands stories and contested spaces today.


Los Desaparecidos in the Gulf Coast and Early Texas Borderlands


“Los Desaparecidos in the Gulf Coast and Early Texas Borderlands,” in Andrew K. Frank and A. GlennCrothers, eds.,Borderland Narratives: Negotiation and Accommodation in North America’sContested Spaces, 15001850(University of Florida Press, 2017), pp.96121

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Carla Gerona

Email : cgerona@hsoc.gatech.edu

Telephone : 404-894-2601

Office Address :

School of History and Sociology

221 Bobby Dodd Way

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

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