Presentation: 'Estevan de Dorantes: The First Moroccan and African Explorer of the American Southwest'


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The Southwest Center's 2024 Spring Lecture Series launches with Hsain Ilahiane's account of one of the most fascinating, and least understood, men in the history of the American Southwest: the Moroccan slave known as Estevan de Dorantes in sixteenth century Spanish accounts of New Spain. Estevan was one of the four survivors of the Pánfilo de Narváez Expedition, which sailed from Spain in 1527. Years later, Estevan led the first Spanish expedition to Zuni lands and was the first Moroccan, African and non-Native American to set foot in present-day Arizona and New Mexico.

Despite Estevan's role in Spain's age of exploration and imperialism in the Americas, historical accounts are silent about him except to note that he was a slave who accompanied Fray Marcos De Niza on his travels through the American Southwest. In his presentation, Ilahiane provides a re-reading of Spanish accounts of New Spain and Medieval Moroccan historical documents to better understand Estevan's status and the circumstances that led him to join the Spaniards in their expedition to the Americas in the sixteenth century, and why he still remains a mere footnote in history.

Hsain Ilahiane is an applied cultural anthropologist and professor at the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and the W.A. Franke Honors College. Hsain's areas of theoretical interest include development, poverty, globalization, applied anthropology, economic anthropology and political ecology.

Contact Info & Links


Audience size
Medium (51-100)


Student Union Memorial Center, Kiva Room,
1303 E. University Blvd.
Tucson, AZ