Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling

Finding Eliza Power and Colonial Storytelling A vital Aboriginal perspective on colonial storytelling Indigenous lawyer and writer Larissa Behrendt has long been fascinated by the story of Eliza Fraser who was purportedly captured by the local B

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  • Title: Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling
  • Author: Larissa Behrendt
  • ISBN: 9780702253904
  • Page: 390
  • Format: Paperback
  • A vital Aboriginal perspective on colonial storytelling Indigenous lawyer and writer 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 pA vital Aboriginal perspective on colonial storytelling Indigenous lawyer and writer 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 colonizers stories Citing works as diverse as Robinson Crusoe and Coonardoo, she explores the tropes in these accounts, such as the supposed promiscuity of Aboriginal women, the Europeans fixation on cannibalism, and the myth of the noble savage Ultimately, Behrendt shows how these stories not only reflect the values of their storytellers but also reinforce those values which in Australia led to the dispossession of Aboriginal people and the laws enforced against them.

    One thought on “Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling”

    1. A smart and thoughtful examination of colonial literature and the myths reinforced by stories told in colonial history and the impacts they've had on the position of Indigenous Australians ever since. The analysis of the 'cannibalism' trope is particularly insightful.

    2. Behrendt has written a concise and engaging analysis of the representations of Aboriginal people in stories told by white people. Starting from the story of Eliza Fraser, shipwrecked on K'gari (now known as Fraser Island), Behrendt explores issued race, gender, colonisation and cultural appropriation. She extends beyond the Fraser story, though, looking at themes across stories from Coonardoo to Mutant Messages Down Under to High Court decisions in Native Title cases. all are stories that reveal [...]

    3. Most of us know the story of Eliza Fraser. ( Briefly, in 1836, Eliza was shipwrecked on Fraser Island, and kinapped by the Aborigines, the Butchulla people). We have read many white Australian versions of the story, but not one from the Butchulla people. Larissa Behrendt refutes these colonial storytelling versions of Eliza and the stereotyping of the Aborigines. Colonial storytelling then and even now, has influenced incorrectly Australia's history and the culture of Indigenous Australians. Beh [...]

    4. As the blurb for Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling states, in this short book Behrendt's aim is to show how colonial stories from Eliza Fraser's "rescue", to the novel Robinson Crusoe: 'not only reflect the values of their storytellers but also reinforce those values – which in Australia led to the dispossession of Aboriginal people and the laws enforced against them'. Behrendt provides a strong analysis of several texts, starting with a breakdown and retelling of the Elisa Fraser [...]

    5. Larissa Behrendt has written a nuanced and engrossing book about colonial attitudes as they operated through a particular Australian colonial ‘captivity tale’. Using the story told by Eliza Fraser who was helped by the Aboriginal people of Fraser Island after surviving a ship wreck in 1836, Behrendt turns the colonial gaze back on itself to examine the motives, the fears and the deficiencies of the Europeans as revealed in stories such as Eliza’s.Behrendt uses her background as a novelist [...]

    6. A really interesting exploration of the 'captive white woman' idea. Eliza Fraser is the most well known example of this in Australia but it it's telling that similar stories are told in the US and elsewhere. The pattern is always based on savages treating powerless women badly, in order to justify white actions in colonial times. It's a wide-ranging look, the author raises questions to outline her case that the whole idea is a set up. A good example of how wrong white people could be about indig [...]

    7. Intelligent, articulate deconstruction of a range of examples of how the powerful get to write the history we consume, and assume is recorded with some modicum of balance. Quite simply, bring a critical lens when confronting the recount of any event. Stay alert for how you are being positioned as a reader and whose point of view is being privileged in all matters where differing perspectives exist. This is as true of the nightly news as it is for the story of Eliza Fraser - which was the 'nightl [...]

    8. I found this readable, challenging, intelligent and insightful. It gave me a fresh view on the cultural norms I inherited as a white person. It examines Eliza's story and then analyses other stories that influenced (and still influences) white Australian perceptions of first nations. The author gently reminded me of my cultural conditioning. I will reread this book very soon and highly recommend it.

    9. Exploring the power of stories to shape national myths and lies: history in the making. Larissa Behrendt uses example of Eliza Fraser to demonstrate how in this tale none lived happily ever after as the real stories of second settlement are obliterated in the historical record. This is not a retelling of the 'classic shipwreck tale' that resulted in the re-naming of Queensland's largest sand island. Showing readers the power of story Behrendt begins with Sheherazade's One Thousand and One Nights [...]

    10. This is an important book, engagingly written and passionately but clearly & rationally argued. I've been waiting for it to come out for months before I read it, and my expectations were unfortunately sky high, because I couldn't help wanting more than was there, which nevertheless doesn't detract from what the book does do. Behrendt takes the story of Eliza Fraser as a starting point for a weaving narrative looking at the how tales of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples reflect an [...]

    11. Blasts away the myth of Eliza Fraser's story, but also acknowledges her resilience in difficult circumstances. A beautifully written and constructed book that gives voice back to Indigenous peoples.

    12. Larissa Behrendt of the Eualeyai/Kamilaroi people, is an author, a lawyer and an Aboriginal activist. This book analyses the famous story of Eliza Fraser, shipwrecked in 1836 and taken in by the Butchulla People of K’gari (now Fraser Island), to show how colonial storytelling about Indigenous people in Australia came to be the dominant, mostly negative stereotype, and how that storytelling has contributed to racism to the present day. And if you have any doubt about the pervasive power of the [...]

    13. This was a really interesting exploration of how the reporting of events and other writing (fictional and non-fictional) are shaped by stereotypes, worldviews and political imperatives. Using the experiences of Eliza Fraser as her main example, but also drawing on a range of other writing, the author demonstrates the influence of dominant views about Indigenous Australians and other colonised people, and views of women's place in society, on how events were reported both at the time and many dec [...]

    14. Behrendt describes the way Eliza Fraser, who was shipwrecked in 1836 and lived with the Butchulla people, was represented in the media and how her "captives" were "cannibals", "savages" and "barbarians". As with most history, she tells Eliza's story is one which is written for the purposes of the audience. The book then goes on and gives other examples how native people have been portrayed by whites (both white women and white men). The best part of the book was the Aboriginal Elder's perspectiv [...]

    15. Finding Eliza is both an easy and difficult read. It is a slim volume, written in layperson’s language, weaving its own story. But it urges self-reflexivity, whether or not you as an author have chosen to include Indigenous characters in your story. If not, why not? And if so—what do the characters say about your understanding of Indigenous people?Read the rest of my review here: kalinapier.wordpress/2017

    16. A brilliant book that exposes the damage done by the colonisation and misrepresentation of Australian Aboriginal people and the appropriation of their culture.

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