Capturing the Landscape of New Spain
Baltasar Obregón and the 1564 Ibarra Expedition
Although Obregón’s role in the Ibarra expedition was that of soldier-explorer, and despite his lacking an advanced education, he would go on to compose Historia de los descubrimientos de Nueva España twenty years later, expanding his narrative to include the years before and after his own firsthand experiences with Ibarra. Obregón depicts the storied landscape of the northern borderlands with vivid imagery, fusing setting and situation, constructing a new reality of what was, is, and should be, and presenting it as truth.
In Capturing the Landscape of New Spain, Rebecca A. Carte explains how landscape performs a primary role in Obregón’s retelling, emerging at times as protagonist and others as antagonist. Carte argues that Obregón’s textualization offers one of the first renderings of the region through the Occidental cultural lens, offering insight into Spanish cultural perceptions of landscape during a period of important social and political shifts.
By examining mapping and landscape discourse, Carte shows how history and geography, past and present, people and land, come together to fashion the landscape of northern New Spain.