Professor Larissa Behrendt on power and colonial storytelling

Aboriginal lawyer, writer and film maker Larissa Berendt discussed her book, Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling with barrister Tim Goodwin.  Justice Stephen Kaye chaired the session. Thought provoking and brilliant, Larissa talked about the long process of deciding how to tell the story of how Fraser Island came to be named, and the effects of this on the Butchulla people, who have always known this place as K’gari.

We heard a wide ranging conversation about telling the ‘best truth’, when faced with vastly different versions of an event.   Drawing on writers and filmmakers from Patrick White and Kate Grenville to Peter Weir, Larissa and Tim talked about and encouraged a greater exploration of how the stories of our past are told. Larissa referred to the groundbreaking and evolving work of writer Bruce Pascoe, who she believes is unlocking a vast knowledge of science and the land.

 "What is it we're working towards?" she said, "I think it's really important that we have an Australia where all Australians see the history and culture of Aboriginal people as part of their history and culture. That it's not an us and them. That we're not making someone worse off by acknowledging that these stories happened or we've got this great culture." 

Hear Larissa talk more about Finding Eliza and the myths and truths in our storytelling. And watch the SBS documentary on k'gari.

Our Law and Literature Series, now in its second year, invites acclaimed presenters in discussion with judicial officers to focus on a range of literary works that relate to the law and relevant social issues.

Please note: This animation is best viewed on your personal laptop.

K'Gari Animation

Image: SBS website, 2017

Image: SBS website, 2017

 

Reading list

The Secret River, Kate Grenville

The Secret River, Kate Grenville

A Fringe of Leaves, Patrick White

A Fringe of Leaves, Patrick White

The Last Wave, Peter Weir

The Last Wave, Peter Weir

The White Woman, Liam Davison

The White Woman, Liam Davison

Judicial College