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  • Author or Editor: Ruwayda Said Salem x
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In recent decades, a lot of Western countries have been engaged in a heated debate on how to come to terms with their colonial past. Leaving behind the idea that colonial history consists mainly of common achievements, the former philanthropic narrative of ‘modernisation’ and ‘progress’ has been critically analysed and dissected as the awareness of its painful episodes grew. In this vein, the postcolonial history in Belgium is an interesting case to examine, as it has long been one of the most criticised colonial metropoles for the way in which it deals with its colonial past, precisely because Belgium has persisted in focusing on the positive aspect of that past. Consequently, a whole part of this history has not yet been processed and is mainly part of a contested past. Social work practices have long sought to remain neutral in this discussion, but this awareness of history as a dynamic weaving of a multiplicity of different strands of identity also applies directly to the development of social work as a profession. From a social work perspective, it is impossible to retreat into a viewpoint outside of history, as we must become aware that social work practices are deeply embedded in historical and cultural habits from which we cannot disengage. In this article, we argue that social work needs to critically deal with its own confusing history, with which it is interwoven, in order to be able to clarify what contemporary social work represents.

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