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  • Author or Editor: Washington Marovatsanga x
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Social work education and interventions with Black African families are frequently impaired because of structural discrimination, racism and the structuring priorities of neoliberalism.

Rooted in rich and fascinating empirical work with practitioners and educators, this urgent, scholarly and accessible book emphasises that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Intent on nurturing more progressive and pluralistic practices in pedagogy and practice, the book is a timely and significant contribution seeking to re-make social work approaches to issues of ‘race’, racism and social justice.

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In this chapter it is argued that it is important to acknowledge that what we might term ‘Afro-Hibernian lifeworlds’ are pluralistic and social work services must begin to engage with those inhabiting and creating such worlds in a much more nuanced and informed way. In short, there is a need to evolve more intellectually curious, rigorous, pluralistic forms of social work inquiry and practice. Hence, those committed to promoting more progressive and benign forms of social work education must aspire to reform their dominant paradigms and ways of working.

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In this chapter the authors dwell on social work in Ireland in the context of the activities of the Black Lives Matter movement and the launch of the Irish Association of Social Workers’ ‘Anti-Racism Strategy’ in February 2021. The chapter is empirically grounded and the authors illuminate some of the views of social work practitioners and educators. More specifically, the focus is on their perceptions in relation to four main themes: social work education and theoretical perspectives; praxis; organisational structures within the capitalist racial state; neoliberalism.

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Along with Chapter 4, this is the book’s most fascinating, and perhaps challenging, chapter. The authors explain, synthesise and distil a complex body of theory. Their discussion explores figures located in the western European canon (Gramsci, Foucault and Bourdieu). They then move on to engage with the critique launched from the Global South by Boaventura de Sousa Santos. The chapter concludes by explaining the core elements of critical race theory and critical whiteness theory.

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Much of the content in this chapter will be entirely new to readers. The main interest is Afrocentric theory and it explores the controversial contributions of Marimba Ali and Molefi Asante. Both authors confront core aspects of Western European theorisation as it is applied within Black communities. Here, readers will also learn about how figures such as Ali and Asante have been used by Black social work educators. In a compelling section toward the end of the chapter, the authors use the work of the philosopher Paul Hountondji to critique the Afrocentrists.

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The chief focus of the chapter is on the Republic of Ireland, where both authors live and work. It is argued that the neoliberalism continues to characterise how society operates. Moreover, the imperatives of neoliberalism structure and constrain intents to promote social justice with Black African and other minority ethnic communities. The particular focus is on social work with children and families. Additionally, the situation of Black African social work students is explored.

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The chapter engages with keywords, concepts and terminology related to concepts discussed in the book, such as race, racism, cultural competence, diversity, multiculturalism and disapora, that may be insufficiently interrogated in social work and kindred fields. In this sense, the chapter provides a vital and accessible resource for readers seeking to engage with often complex themes. Here, the authors also put in place a solid conceptual foundation for the rest of the book.

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This chapter concisely identifies the book’s core concerns and places them in the context of issues relating to, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19. The main argument is that social work practice and education needs to do more to address meaningfully issues relating to the Black African diaspora. The authors’ attention is specifically on the Republic of Ireland, but the book has global resonance for social work and those intent on developing social justice-orientated approaches. ‘Reflection and talk boxes’ are used at the end of each chapter to promote reflection, discussion and activism.

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