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Decolonizing Social Work

Mel Gray, John Coates, Michael Yellow Bird, Tiani Hetherington


Riding on the success of Indigenous Social Work Around the World, this book provides case studies to further scholarship on decolonization, a major analytical and activist paradigm among many of the world’s Indigenous Peoples, including educators, tribal leaders, activists, scholars, politicians, and citizens at the grassroots level. Decolonization seeks to weaken the effects of colonialism and create opportunities to promote traditional practices in contemporary settings. Establishing language and cultural programs; honouring land claims, teaching Indigenous history, science, and ways of knowing; self-esteem programs, celebrating ceremonies, restoring traditional parenting approaches, tribal rites of passage, traditional foods, and helping and healing using tribal approaches are central to decolonization. These insights are brought to the arena of international social work still dominated by western-based approaches. Decolonization draws attention to the effects of globalization and the universalization of education, methods of practice, and international ’development’ that fail to embrace and recognize local knowledges and methods. In this volume, Indigenous and non-Indigenous social work scholars examine local cultures, beliefs, values, and practices as central to decolonization. Supported by a growing interest in spirituality and ecological awareness in international social work, they interrogate trends, issues, and debates in Indigenous social work theory, practice methods, and education models including a section on Indigenous research approaches. The diversity of perspectives, decolonizing methodologies, and the shared struggle to provide effective professional social work interventions is reflected in the international nature of the subject matter and in the mix of contributors who write from their contexts in different countries and cultures, including Australia, Canada, Cuba, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA.

Theory: Thinking about Indigenous Social Work

Introduction Scoping the Terrain of Decolonization

By Mel Gray, John Coates, Michael Yellow Bird, Tiani Hetherington

Indigenization, Indigenous Social Work and Decolonization: Mapping the Theoretical Terrain

By Mel Gray, Tiani Hetherington

Decolonizing Social Work: An Indian Viewpoint

By Vidya Rao

Ecospiritual Approaches: A Path to Decolonizing Social Work

By John Coates

Why Decolonized Social Work is More than Cross-Culturalism

By Ann Joselynn Baltra-Ulloa

Practice: From the Bottom Up

Community-Based Social Work in Cuba

By Lourdes de Urrutia Barroso, David Strug

Social Work Practice with Mexican Americans

By Flavio Francisco Marsiglia

From Trauma to Triumph: Perspectives for Native Hawaiian and Māori Peoples

By Noreen Mokuau, Peter J. Mataira

Decolonized Social Work Practice in Jordan

By Sahar Al-Makhamreh, Mary Pat Sullivan

Education: Facilitating Local Relevance

Decolonizing Social Work Education in Africa: A Historical Perspective

By Linda Kreitzer

Indigenizing the Curriculum: The Decolonization of Social Work Education in Hawai`i

By Paula T. Tanemura Morelli, Peter J. Mataira, Malina Kaulukukui

Challenging International Social Work Placements: Critical Questions, Critical Knowledge

By Samantha Wehbi

Building Bridges with Indigenous Communities through Social Work Education

By Nicole G. Ives, Michael Thaweiakenrat Loft

Research: Decolonizing Methodologies

Kaupapa Māori Social Work Research

By Anaru Eketone, Shayne Walker

Indigenizing Research for Culturally Relevant Social Work Practice

By Jon K. Matsuoka, Paula T. Morelli, Hamilton McCubbin

Neurodecolonization: Applying Mindfulness Research to Decolonizing Social Work

By Michael Yellow Bird

Using Indigenist Research to Shape Our Future

By Shawn Wilson

Conclusion: Continuing the Decolonization Agenda

By Mel Gray, John Coates, Michael Yellow Bird, Tiani Hetherington