A Violent History of Benevolence: Interlocking Oppression in the Moral Economies of Social Working
A Violent History of Benevolence traces how normative histories of liberalism, progress, and social work enact and obscure systemic violences. Chris Chapman and A.J. Withers explore how normative social work history is structured in such a way that contemporary social workers can know many details about social work’s violences, without ever imagining that they may also be complicit in these violences. Framings of social work history actively create present-day political and ethical irresponsibility, even among those who imagine themselves to be anti-oppressive, liberal, or radical.
The authors document many histories usually left out of social work discourse, including communities of Black social workers (who, among other things, never removed children from their homes involuntarily), the role of early social workers in advancing eugenics and mass confinement, and the resonant emergence of colonial education, psychiatry, and the penitentiary in the same decade. Ultimately, A Violent History of Benevolence aims to invite contemporary social workers and others to reflect on the complex nature of contemporary social work, and specifically on the present-day structural violences that social work enacts in the name of benevolence.
- Division: Scholarly Publishing
- World Rights
- Page Count: 536 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
"Linking history to the present is very important to social work readers. Discussing rehabilitation, assimilation, and repair, A Violent History of Benevolence acts as a counter-narrative to the more simplistic, history-as-progress narrative often assigned to conversations about social work. This information is vital for students and faculty, and the social work knowledge base."
Donna Jeffery, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
"The book beautifully and at times devastatingly traces the violent history of benevolence from which much current social work, and psy-expertise, has grown. This is a study of historical violence and atrocity that disrupts and makes unfamiliar continued and contemporary practices, making us look anew at how these practices enact violence, encouraging a deep ethical questioning of people’s imagined rights to intervene in others’ lives."
China Mills, Lecturer in Critical Educational Psychology, School of Education, University of Sheffield
"Sensitive to how history is written, Chapman and Withers pull out threads that reveal what is not included in usual histories of social work."
Sheila Neysmith, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
Author InformationChris Chapman is an associate professor of Social Work at York University.
A.J Withers is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Work at York University, and an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
Table of contentsChapter 1: Troubling the Standard Account of Social Work
Chapter 2: White Supremacy and the Erasure of Racialized Social Workers
Chapter 3: Social Work as Displacement, Denigration, Cisheteropatriarchalization
Chapter 4: Knowing Better: Liberalism, Instrumental Violence, and Making New Humans
Chapter 5: Rehabilitation/Eugenics
Chapter 6: Assimilation/Genocide
Chapter 7: And What if it isn’t Getting Better? What do we do then?
Subjects and Courses