Barbara Dawson

Dr Barbara Dawson worked for the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, School of History, in the Research School of Social Sciences at The Australian National University from 1999 to 2011. She is now a School Visitor to the School of History, ANU. She has written widely on Australian colonial history.

In the Eye of the Beholder »

What Six Nineteenth-century Women Tell Us About Indigenous Authority and Identity

Authored by: Barbara Dawson
This book offers a fresh perspective in the debate on settler perceptions of Indigenous Australians. It draws together a suite of little known colonial women (apart from Eliza Fraser) and investigates their writings for what they reveal about their attitudes to, views on and beliefs about Aboriginal people, as presented in their published works. The way that reader expectations and publishers’ requirements slanted their representations forms part of this analysis. All six women write of their first-hand experiences on Australian frontiers of settlement. The division into ‘adventurers’ (Eliza Fraser, Eliza Davies and Emily Cowl) and longer-term ‘settlers’ (Katherine Kirkland, Mary McConnel and Rose Scott Cowen) allows interrogation into the differing representations between those with a transitory knowledge of Indigenous people and those who had a close and more permanent relationship with Indigenous women, even encompassing individual friendship. More pertinently, the book strives to reveal the aspects, largely overlooked in colonial narratives, of Indigenous agency, authority and individuality. For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.