Framing Frontiers: Landscape and Discourse in Baltasar de Obregón's Historia de los descubrimientos de Nueva España (1584)

by Carte, Rebecca Ann

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation examines the discourses of landscape as they relate to the representation of indigenous peoples in Baltasar Obregón´s narrative report of exploration, Historia de los descubrimientos de Nueva España (1584). As it narrates the course of expeditions of exploration into the northern borderlands of New Spain between 1564 and 1584, the primary purpose of this text was not only to report to the crown and officials in New Spain the events that occurred during the expeditions, but also to report on the geography of the largely unknown territory beyond the northern frontier of New Spain, since no maps yet existed for it. Obregón, the narrating subject, then, made important decisions about what his anticipated readership would see of the region through what information he chose to present, and how he chose to present it. These decisions about how to frame the view of the landscape directly affected the representations that were created of these lands, and of their peoples. At the same time, Obregón's narrative would have more than likely been influenced not only by what he saw as he traversed the territory, but also by the documentation, legend, and lore of the expeditions into North America that preceded his; in particular, the relaciones and rumors that had circulated about the journeys of Alvar Núnez Cabeza de Vaca (1528-1536), Fray Marcos de Niza (1539) and Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (1540-1542). Just how the landscape and its peoples presented in the text were perceived by the anticipated readers would have hinged, to a great extent, on the representations provided by the narrating subject, a criollo, himself influenced by his very particular locus of enunciation, the frontier of New Spain in the late sixteenth century. I argue that it is in landscape description where the context of textual production, textual mapping and the textual projection of European institutions converge, and create a place, a "textualscape," from which the human element cannot escape.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:landscape colonial discourse baltasar de obregón indigenous representation new spain textualscape


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.