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 off the Queensland coast 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 ideas embedded in these accounts, such as the supposed promiscuity of Aboriginal women, the fixation on 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 – which in Australia led to the dispossession of Aboriginal people and the enforcement of unjust laws against them.
About the Author
Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman. She is the Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of the ACT and NSW as a barrister. Larissa is a Land Commissioner at the Land and Environment Court and the Alternate Chair of the Serious Offenders Review Board, a member of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and a founding member of the Australian Academy of Law. She is the Chair of the Humanities and Creative Arts panel of the Australian Research Council College of Experts. She is the author of several books on Indigenous legal issues. She won the 2002 David Uniapon Award and a 2005 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for her novel Home. Her latest novel, Legacy, is due for release in October this year. Larissa is a Board Member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, a board member of Tranby Aboriginal College and a Director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre. She was named as 2009 NAIDOC Person of the Year.
'Larissa Behrendt takes us on the epic colonial narrative of Eliza Fraser, who has been a yoke around the necks of the Butchulla (Badtjala) people and in particular our women ...Finding Eliza covers much ground and is compelling reading.' Fiona Foley