Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling

Larissa Behrendt

Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling
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Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling

Larissa Behrendt

A vital Indigenous perspective on colonial storytelling.

Aboriginal lawyer, writer and filmmaker Larissa Behrendt has long been fascinated by the story of Eliza Fraser, who was purportedly captured by the local Butchulla people after she was shipwrecked on their island in 1836. In this deeply personal book, Behrendt uses Eliza’s tale as a starting point to interrogate how Aboriginal people - and indigenous people of other countries - have been portrayed in their colonisers' stories.

Exploring works as diverse as Robinson Crusoe and Coonardoo, Behrendt looks at the stereotypes embedded in these accounts, including the assumption of cannibalism and the myth of the noble savage. Ultimately, Finding Eliza shows how these stories not only reflect the values of their storytellers but also reinforce those values - and how, in Australia, this has contributed to a complex racial divide.

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