Carla Gerona Examines Disappearances on the Early American Borderlands
Posted November 28, 2017
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, Carla Gerona, associate professor of history in the School of History and Sociology, offers a new take in “Los Desaparecidos in the Gulf Coast and Early Texas Borderlands.” This essay connects Cabeza de Vaca’s expedition to earlier Spanish entries, as well as Hernando de Soto’s follow-up incursion into Mississippian lands. Instead of romanticizing Cabeza de Vaca and the three other “survivors,” Gerona shows that the men created a trail of destruction that caused disappearances for Spaniards and Indians alike. Gerona’s article aims to see past the heroic veneers to uncover the distress the disappearances caused. This legacy of desaparecidos — the disappeared — was a central component of the borderlands that continues to mark borderlands stories and contested spaces today.