Critical History: Protection and Power
The falsicifaction of facts only leads to greater misunderstanding. In Tricia Logan’s paper, “Memory, Erasure, and National Myth,” she focuses on the Canadian government’s power over the documentation of First Nation people’s history. Likewise, Joan W. Scott in, “History Writing as a Critique” describes the social implications of government’s exerting their power over their people’s access to historical documents. In response to both Logan’s examples and Scott’s arguments, this paper will focus on the two central themes of protection and power. It is clear that the pursuit of critical history must be done to uphold the dignity of persons and prevent furhter power conflicts.
Historical accounts of events are subject to bias with the multitudie of different perspectives and are therefore written in a way that puts certain minorities at a constant disadvantage. Logan speaks of the Canadian Government having the ability to take purposeful action in shaping what it’s people remember of an event by their influence over school education as well as Library and Archives Canada (Logan 155). As a result, the government has the power to limit the resources available to a country’s citizens and has done so in a way that can distort the image of certain minority groups. When done on a large scale with deliberate action against such minorities, many people and cultures will subsequently be discriminated against based on generalizations and stereotypes that stem from biased information. Limited knowledge in society is especially dangerous if the only information given is that which frames certain people in a negative light.
Bringing these ideas out of a theoretical context, censorship of a people’s history has been done countless time’s in the past. Logan mentions in her article one instance with the denial of the Armenian genocide (until 2005) by the Turkish government for they did not want to take responsibility for their state’s crimes (Logan 150). Such actions by this government have led to the silencing of survivors and witnesses who then loose their right to speak out on the atrocities done to them. By not condemning past action that go against state and international laws, it then forms a society that tolerates and normalizes the discrimination of people.
To delve deeper into the social implications of this, the benefits of biased information falls on whomever holds the power to influence the distribution of information. Tricia Logan further explains that power typically false under those with political and financial influence who then instigates the domination of certain narratives (Logan 156-157). Such power imbalance between the elites and minorities ensures that the government and rich will always stay on top so long as they have control over historical documentation. Without proper policies that restrict the monopolization of information, historical bias will always remain.
Seeing the dangers of biased information, it is important to uphold the freedom to research history in a critical sense. Scott defines critical analyses of history as being able to unbiasedly account for social and political contexts while searching for the questionable faults in an argument (Scott 23-24). In other words, an event in history must be looked at from different perspectives in order to instigate better understanding of the situation, motives and results. By broadening the public’s look on social contexts, society can then begin to justify the actions of others and not arbitrarily blame or misunderstand the culture, actions or traditions of a certain set of people’s that is often skewed when written by someone outside of their circle.
If then studying critical history is the solution to a biased and stereotypical society, the barriers stopping individuals from studying critically must be overcome. Ultimately, this goal is the responsibility of the authors and the state to protect credible documentation of history on more than just an honour system that often crumbles under a state’s pursuit of power. Again, Scott argues that change in society are driven by critical history that legitimizes authority and allows them to see a new future (Scott 33). It is essential that authors, documenters, compliers and scribes give honest accounts of historical events and unbiased interpretation in order to uphold the integrity and dignity of the very people and cultures they are writing about. Equally important, governments must uphold policies that protect the documentation of history and condemn the falsification of facts. Although, some may argue that the responsibility is on individuals to do their own research as the internet has proved to be a vast bounty of research, the credibility of such information is not an automatic given. Critical historical information requires more than just the random blogs on the internet, but a deliberate study of vast accounts and purposeful efforts to protect and encourage it’s availability to the public in it’s educational institutions.
Logan’s analyses of the role of Governments sets a clear example of how people are oppressed from the deliberate censorship of information. In collaboration with this, Scott professes the importance of looking at history critically. Given both of these arguments, there is a postive relationship between a diverse set of unbiased information and a better understanding of different people. Thus, the study of critical history is crucial in protecting the integrity of social and ethnic groups by overcoming incentives for political power in the hope of greating a more inclusive world.
Logan, Tricia E. “Memory, Erasure, and National Myth.” Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North
America. Ed. Alexander Laban Hinton. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.
Scott, Joan W. “History Writing as a Critique .” Manifesto for History. Ed. Keith Jenkens.
Abingdon, NY: Routeledge, 2007. 19-38. Print.