The settler colonialism of social work and the social work of settler colonialism

Fortier, C., & Hon-Sing Wong, E. (2019). The settler colonialism of social work and the social work of settler colonialism. Settler Colonial Studies9(4), 437-456.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/2201473X.2018.1519962

The consolidation of the social work profession in Canada was critical to the settler colonial project. Parallel to the rise of the modern police force, the accounting bureaucracy, and the colonial legal apparatus, the social work profession is a foundational component to the creation, expansion, and adaptation of the settler state. Through a historical review of the origins of social work and its professionalization in Canada, this paper argues that contemporary social work and social service provision remain circumscribed by the logics of conquest, extraction, apprehension, management, and pacification that advance the settler project and seek to secure settler futurity. Given the incommensurabilities between social work practice and Indigenous processes of decolonization this paper explores potential pathways towards unsettling social work practice including disrupting dehistoricization (working towards the repatriation of Indigenous lands, children, and cultural traditions and the upholding of Indigenous sovereignty); working towards deinstitutionalization (challenging the institutionalization of service provision and re-focusing on mutual aid, treaty responsibilities, and settler complicity; and promoting deprofessionalization (the restructuring of the ‘helping’ practices of social work back under the control of communities themselves.

Author:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *