Disrupting Whiteness in Social Work  book cover
1st Edition

Disrupting Whiteness in Social Work

ISBN 9781032083612
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
212 Pages

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Book Description

Focussing on the epistemic – the way in which knowledge is understood,


transmitted and used – this book shows the way social work

knowledge has been constructed from within a white western paradigm, and

the need for a critique of whiteness within social work at this epistemic level.

Social work, emerging from the western Enlightenment world, has privileged

white western knowledge in ways that have been, until recently, largely unexamined

within its professional discourse. This imposition of white western

ways of knowing has led to a corresponding marginalisation of other forms

of knowledge. Drawing on views from social workers from Asia, the Pacific

region, Africa, Australia and Latin America, this book also includes a glossary

of over 40 commonly used social work terms, which are listed with their epistemological

assumptions identified. Opening up a debate about the received

wisdom of much social work language as well as challenging the epistemological

assumptions behind conventional social work practice, this book will be

of interest to all scholars and students of social work as well as practitioners


to develop genuinely decolonised forms of practice.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Sonia Tascón and Jim Ife

Chapter 1: Critical Whiteness: Communicating Social Work: Sonia Tascón

Chapter 2: Whiteness from Within: Jim Ife


Chapter 3: The white saviour complex: The danger of the “single story” about Africa & Africans in Social work Practice: Kathomi Gatwiri

Chapter 4: Straddling the Gap: Australian Social Work and First People: Sue Green

Chapter 5: Decolonising Social work in Uganda by Starting from the Community: Sharlotte Tusasiirwe

Chapter 6: Refractory inventions: The incubation of Rival Epistemologies on the Margins of Brazilian Social Work: Iris Silva Brito, Goetz Ottmann

Chapter 7: Mutuality and creativity: Knowing and Being as a Pasifika social work scholar: Tracie Mafile’o

Chapter 8: Supporting the development of Pacific Social Work across Oceania – critical reflections and lessons learnt towards disrupting whiteness in the region: Jioji Ravulo

Chapter 9: Una aproximación al trabajo social desde la decolonialidad y la interseccionalidades: Larry Alicea Rodríguez

Chapter 10: Islamic and Local Knowledge on Social Work in Malaysia: Zulkarnain A. Hatta, Isahaque Ali, Mohd Haizzan Yahaya, Mat Saad


Decolonising the Language of Social Work

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Sonia Tascón is a Lecturer in Social Work at Western Sydney University. A descendant of the Chilean Indigenous Mapuche Nation, a fact she discovered later in life, she is now committed to understanding and incorporating her indigeneity into her self-identification. Her lengthy academic career has almost completely focused on issues of race, whiteness, diaspora, and refugee and migrant rights. As a social work/ human rights practitioner her practice incorporated Indigenous health, youth and child mental health, as well as child protection, always with a concern for race as a dimension of inequality. In her later academic life, she took a turn towards the creative visual arts, always maintaining a race analysis and focus on communities as sources of sustenance. Her current interest lies on disrupting white epistemologies in social work and beyond, as a foundational means of achieving decolonisation.

Jim Ife is Professor of Social Work at Western Sydney University. He has previously been Professor of Social Work and Social Policy at The University of Western Australia and at Curtin University, and was Head of the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin, where is he Emeritus Professor. He has written extensively in the areas of community development, social work and human rights, and is the author of Community Development (Cambridge University Press, latest edition 2016), Human Rights and Social Work (Cambridge University Press, 3rd edition 2013), Human Rights from Below (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Rethinking Social Work (Pearson, 1997). He is also co-editor of Radicals in Australian Social Work: Stories of Life-Long Activism (Conor Court, 2017).