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by jraffan
posted 06/03/2016

Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling

Article Lead - narrow1005060584gmdx5ximage.related.articleLeadNarrow.353x0.gmdxpk.png1454029181854.jpg-300x0Join me, Jane Raffan on Arts Monday 7 March for a program that looks at folklore, and the role stereotypes play in cementing narrative in national histories and broader popular culture.

My guest interviews today are with Larissa Behrendt, lawyer, and professor of Indigenous Research at the University of Technology Sydney, and author of a powerful new critique of the Eliza Fraser story.

Fraser’s story involves shipwreck and survival in the company of the Butchulla people of what is now known as Fraser Island, Queensland (which, incidentally, was named after her husband, the ill-fated captain who died soon after the shipwrecked party made landfall, rather than Eliza). Eliza went on to tell her story – with embellishments – for many years after her so-called rescue from “cannibals”, and the story has influenced Australian writers, painters and filmmakers for generations.

Larissa Behrendt’s book is titled Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling, and it is a reference-rich deconstruction of the tropes in the Eliza Fraser ‘captivity narrative’ that have become foundational truths in colonial societies around the world, and which have had lasting deleterious effects on our Indigenous peoples.

And the music? The playlist showcases contemporary Indigenous voices, with a special focus on the music of the Stiff Gins.

As always, I look forward to your company.

Jane Raffan


Where to buy the book: Queensland University Press