Only by experiencing history can someone retain memories that are able to narrate the past- taking history in a narrative context creates a desire for liberation from the way things are and have been.
McGillis, Roderick. "The Opportunity to Choose a Past: Remembering History." Children's Literature Association Quarterly 25.1 (2000): 49-55. Print.
Let me be clear here with regard to contemporary historical children's fiction and history. If children receive their history from a literature that derives entirely from the present moment (I think of the many contemporary works of historical fiction available to young people today), and do not experience works from the pastÂ—for example, if they read something like Joan Aiken's Midnight Is a Place (1974) or Jill Paton Walsh's A Chance Child (1978) and do not read work by writers such as Hesba Stretton, Charles Kingsley, or Charles DickensÂ—then their contact with the past is doubly mediated, even skewed. The lessons we learn from contact with the stuff of the pastÂ—with at least a singly mediated past, that is with books actually written in the pastÂ—allow us to fashion history with some degree of authenticity and immediacy. No, the word I'm searching for is "authority." We cannot author history unless we experience it, and the only means of experience we have is through contact with what remains of the pastÂ—places, objects, documents, those things that carry memories…I take as my subject, then, historical fiction. My premise is that such fictions participate in what Fredric Jameson refers to as "the collective struggle to wrest a realm of Freedom from a realm of Necessity" (19). The very act of narrative itself testifies to a desire for liberation from the way things are and have been. To narrate is to reconstruct , and in reconstruction lies the desire for something other than what we have. Of course we can narrate without obvious reference to the past, to history, but to take history as the narrative context is clearly to direct attention to the way things were, the way things are, and the way things might be. Implicit in every narrative of the past is a reflection on the present. This is the way things were. How does this square with the way things are? And do we wish things to be different in the future from the way they are now? In other words, narrative is always a constructing of ideology.
Utilizing a methodology to accurately characterize problems is a prerequisite to taking action
David M. Halperin, American theorist in the fields of gender studies, queer theory, critical theory, material culture and visual culture, "Sain Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography, " New York Oxford University Press, pg. 53-54, 1995, DES.
Keith Gandal has attempted to explicate Foucault's political attitudes and practices, and his account is worth quoting at some length:Foucault developed a new political role for intellectual work and a new sort of political activism that was informed by historical analysis. What has often been thought of as his nihilism was, first of all, his sense that articulating a set of values inhibits effective and ethical political action, and, secondly, his understanding that resistance cannot stand in pure opposition to the powers that be, but that, instead, struggle and change always take place through co-optation, that, in fact, change is made possible by co-optation because, in the process of co-optation, in assimilating the resistance, the terms of power change.... [H]e wanted to establish an activism that was predicated, not on the enumeration of values or the proposal of social policy, but on tactical considerations and ethical practice (including a practice of reform that would not depend upon the expert reformer). Foucault was concerned above all with the effects of his thinking and political activity.... He pursued struggles where the situation was "intolerable," but also where an alteration of power relations was possible.... Those who come to Foucault's work looking for political solutions will be perpetually disappointed. Foucault's project--in both his politics and his histories-was not to lay out solutions, but rather to identify and characterize problems.... For Foucault, Truth did not reside in a set of ideas about the way things should be, but in a practice that talked about problems in a manner that opened up new possibilities for action. Identifying and sizing up a problem was the most determinate act of thought.... Foucault challenged the intellectual activism whose claim to a progressive politics is a theoretical apparatus, or a correct set of values, or a program for a legitimate political system. He believed that a progressive politics needed, not a vision of what should be, but a sense of what was intolerable and an historical analysis that could help determine possible strategies in political struggles.... If Foucault remained fairly silent on the subjects of answers and principles, it was because he was acting ethically and strategically, it was because he believed that asserting principles would get in the way of an ethic of "popular" participation. He wanted to allow and even inspire a practice of criticism which proceeded, not with expert, theoretical or scientific knowledges, but with "lowranking knowledges."
Our critical approach can provide the tools needed to emancipate individuals in their day to day lives.
McLaren and Kincheloe in 5 (Peter Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies @ UCLA and Joe, professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Education, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, Third Edition, Eds Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln)
Critical Emancipation. Those who seek emancipation attempt to gain the power to control their own lives in solidarity with a justice-oriented community. Here, critical research attempts to expose the forces that prevent individuals and groups from shaping the decisions that crucially affect their lives. In this way, greater degrees of autonomy and human agency can be achieved. In the first decade of the 21st century, we are cautious in our use of the term "emancipation" because, as many critics have pointed out, no one is ever completely emancipated from the sociopolitical context that has produced him or her. Concurrently, many have used the term "emancipation" to signal the freedom an abstract individual gains by gaining access to Western reason—that is, becoming reasonable. Our use of "emancipation" in an evolving criticality rejects any use of the term in this context In addition, many have rightly questioned the arrogance that may accompany efforts to emancipate "others." These are important caveats and must be carefully taken into account by critical researchers. Thus, as critical inquirers who search for those forces that insidiously shape who we are, we respect those who reach different conclusions in their personal journeys (Butler, 1998; Cannella, 1997; Kellogg, 1998; Knobel, 1999; Steinberg & Kinchcloe, 1998; Weil, 1998).