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About this book

Welfare, health, education, conflict, security and migration are examples of phenomena that are prevalent across all societies. With chapters from leading scholars from around the world, this exciting new book draws upon the impacts of globalisation, colonialism, and capitalism, to explore the common challenges facing nations across the globe and provide an insight in to the history, theory and practice of a new anti-racist social work.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Though human societies, populations and cultures have always been in a state of flux, the contemporary historical moment, often characterised as the age of ‘globalisation’, has witnessed a dramatic compression of ‘time and space’ resulting in unimaginable social upheavals. It was David Harvey, in his book The Condition of Postmodernity (1989), who first coined this term to suggest how the joint forces of capitalism and technological advancement were leading to the destruction of spatial barriers and distances. Whilst for some this new epoch in world history has brought great rewards, tragically it has also resulted in a dramatic acceleration of all kinds of social inequalities both between and within nations, regions, cities and towns. A report published by the international charity Oxfam argued that the richest 1 per cent now have more wealth than the rest of the world’s population combined, that the wealthiest 62 people on the planet have more wealth than half the world population and that global inequality is worse than at any time since the nineteenth century (Oxfam, 2016).
Gurnam Singh, Shepard Masocha

2. ‘Race’, Racism and Resistance: Theory and Politics

Discussions of race and migration tend to be marginalised within social work, often being presented as a special interest topic. However, in reality, the history of the human species, of migration and oppression are interwoven. Moreover, as Goldberg observes, ‘With emerging European exploration and expansion from the late fourteenth century on, it is also the history of miscegenation and cultural mixing, of increasing physical and cultural heterogeneity. (2002, p. 14). This chapter offers a historical analysis of ‘race’ and racism and the ways that these concepts have, over time, been constructed, understood and opposed.
Gurnam Singh

3. (Re)imagining new spaces for anti-racist social work: Policy deliberation as practice

The need for social work practitioners to be involved in policy as practice is well acknowledged within the social work professional discourse (Weiss-Gal, 2017). In addition to practice knowledge needed for social work, critical reflection and reflexivity around how professional power operates have also been widely accepted as important core skills for practitioners (Parton & O’Byrne, 2000; Taylor & White, 2000). Over the past decade, various scholars have highlighted the inherent dangers of oppression when social work moves away from critical and reflexive practice (Ferguson, 2018; Powell, 2002; D’Cruz, 2004; D’Cruz and Jones, 2004). However, very little attention has been paid to the potential that policy deliberation has for challenging neoliberal policy frameworks.
Shepard Masocha, Heidi Hetz, Deirdre Tedmanson

4. Popular Social Work in the West Bank – insights for an internationalist anti-racist social work

In recent years, across the humanities and social sciences, student activists have challenged academics and educational institutions to ‘decolonise the curriculum’. The reinvigorated campaign started in South Africa in 2015, when students demanded that education fully address (and rectify) the barriers black people faced in entering and succeeding at university (Nathane & Smith, 2017). The movement demanded that ‘fees should fall’ (that entry to university should not be based on ability to pay), that racialised barriers at universities should be tackled and that the curriculum should look at the ways in which South Africa’s history of colonial domination and apartheid continues to shape present-day class relations in the country (Le Grange, 2016).
Michael Lavalette, Tracy Ramsey, Mohamed Amara

5. Reflections on the development, ideology and practice of anti-racist social work in Greece

This chapter discusses the development of anti-racist social work and its historical interaction with the broader anti-racist movement in Greece. Although we place a particular emphasis on the extraordinary refugee crisis of the last four years, we do so through providing an analysis that is constructed on two main pillars: (1) the fact that racism thrives in an environment of poverty and oppression and such symbiosis unless challenged leads to the emergence of populism and militant racism; (2) the antithesis that characterises the political construction of Greek social work which, on the one hand, allows the profession to function as a tool of an oppressive state apparatus, while on the other hand, creates unique opportunities for meaningful resistance and creative solidarity with the most vulnerable people in society.
Vasilios Ioakimidis, Dimitra-Dora Teloni

6. Transcending racism in asylum politics: Quest for social workers

Social workers frequently encounter people newly arrived in Australia. Whether working at individual, group or community levels, the profession is engaged with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from a breadth of countries and ethnicities. This occurs whether they are employed in mainstream or specialist organisations. During their social work education, students are presented with theoretical constructs that advance their knowledge base to equip them to work in diverse and changing situations. An increasing number of people who are themselves migrants, are employed in social work positions, which facilitates communication, cultural understandings and overcomes language barriers.
Linda Briskman, Lucy Fiske

7. Social work, social justice and sectarianism in Post Conflict Northern Ireland

This chapter will discuss and analyse the complex issues associated with social work in Northern Ireland. This is a small jurisdiction of 1.8 million people within the United Kingdom (UK). Unlike England (population 55.2 million), Scotland (population 5.5 million) and Wales (population 3.1 million), it does not share a single land mass on the large island off the west coast of Europe that is Great Britain. It is located farther to the west in the North East corner of the island of Ireland. That geography has been an essential aspect of what some historians record as 800 years of struggle, often violent, over political identity and governance. In the latter part of the twentieth century that struggle achieved notoriety for being the longest contracted armed struggle within and against a European state in the postwar period – a period of political violence by the state and local paramilitary groupings euphemistically termed locally as the ‘Troubles’.
Jim Campbell, John Pinkerton

8. From Colorblind Racism to Critical Race Theory: The Road Toward Anti-racist Social Work in the United States

An explicit anti-racist social work practice has never gained prominence in the US. Save for a few notable exceptions in the last few decades that we address in this chapter, social work practice has been unresponsive to racism in ways that perpetuate the social inequality it seeks to address. This chapter will introduce an explanation of why this is, as racism is deeply rooted in the social and economic history of the US. We are in a new wave of open discussion of racism in this country, on a level not seen since the Civil Rights Movement. Terms such as White supremacy are employed in mainstream dominant discourse without fear of, or in defiance of retribution. Times like these are ripe for addressing racism in social work practice. As we write, in the summer of 2018, within a volatile national and geopolitical climate that is laden with racism and xenophobia, we assert and affirm that racism is ordinary, endemic and embedded in US institutions, and social work practice is not exempt.
Adriana Aldana, Nicole Vazquez

9. Racial Issues and Social Work Intervention

Brazil is located in eastern South America. In 2018, its estimated population was 208,400,000 and it is the fifth most populous country in the world. Brazil is also one of the most economically unequal countries in the world.1 This inequality is expressed by race, ethnicity and gender and also expressed differently per region in Brazil: 40 per cent of the population was categorised as socially vulnerable in the north and 40.1 per cent in the northeast, but only 11.3 per cent in the south.
Maria Lúcia Teixeira Garcia, Maria Zelma de Araújo Madeira

10. Social Work and the Community Question: Addressing Complexities of Social Structures

There are socio-political, economic and cultural factors that often determine the origin and evolution of human service professions in different countries. In the context of India, the development in the last two decades of the British colonial phase, as also in the post-colonial decades, influenced the shape of the social work discipline and profession. The detrimental impacts of the Great Depression, combined with the protective trade and tax policies adopted by the government of British India in the 1930s, created heightened human suffering in India. During the period between the two world wars, the infamous Bengal famine, the thrust towards urbanisation, and the growing tension between religious communities over demands and prospects of partition on the country, in a way, determined the shape of things to come with the foundation of a new discipline called social work. The socio-economic and political context paved the way for the introduction of modern social work in India in the 1930s by the US.
Manish K. Jha, P. K. Shajahan

11. Interrogating Anti-Racist Social Work Education in England

The focus of this chapter is to reflect on important strands of empirical work which enable us to explore and theorise about how social work students navigate and make sense of anti-racist practice in pre-qualifying training contexts. We examine important empirical evidence which enables us to understand the challenges and barriers students face in this politically and emotionally supercharged area of learning. As educators and researchers we feel that it is important to evaluate the pedagogic relevance and practice utility of teaching social work students about ‘race’, racism and anti-racism, and identify how this learning is supported and hindered in both practice education and formal classroom teaching contexts. Both of us recognise the need to learn more about ‘what works’ for students when delivering anti-racist curricula and preparing students to navigate making sense of the murky and fluid terrain of racism in social work and society.
Sukhwinder Singh, Prospera Tedam

12. Anti racist social work: The Hong Kong context

As a result of the change of sovereignty from Britain to China in 1997, race relations in Hong Kong have changed significantly. Afraid that the right of abode granted by the British colonial government would cease after 1997, due to the uncertain political situation, many South Asians migrated to Hong Kong just before 1997. Together with the increase in the number of foreign domestic workers, the non-ethnic Chinese population increased from 251,200 in 1991 to 343,950 in 2001.
Wong Hung, Raees Begum Baig

13. Anti-racist Social Work – South African perspectives

This chapter seeks to critically explore the origins, historical and socio-political contexts of anti-racist social work practice in South Africa. It recognises competing narratives, histories and discourses that have all sought to influence, structure and control the profession, its interventions and destiny. In the complex and highly racialised historical and socio-political context of South Africa, these critical perspectives help to analyse the structural forces which have sought to shape the lives of South Africans, the social work profession, and social welfare policy and delivery. Anti-racist debates in South Africa, cannot be considered without contextualising this to the country’s diverse socio-economic, political and cultural history, with complex inter-relationships between inequality, land ownership, historical disadvantage, industrialisation and migration. Consequently, various interests have sought to exploit ethnic and racial contexts, and economic and political forces have shaped social inequality with resulting implications for social reproduction.
Gary Spolander, Priscalia Khosa, Zibonele Zimba

14. Conclusion

The International Federation of Social Workers’ (IFSW) Global Definition of Social Work, adopted in July 2014, positions at its core the commitment to human ‘empowerment’ and ‘liberation’: Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.
Gurnam Singh, Shepard Masocha
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