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Adopting a decolonising lens: towards an epistemological transformation of social work knowledge


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Vincent, KD 2017 , 'Adopting a decolonising lens: towards an epistemological transformation of social work knowledge', in F Fozdar and C Stevens (eds.), Conference Proceedings of the TASA 2017 Conference , The Australian Sociological Association, Australia, pp. 51-56 .

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This paper presents the experiences of a white social worker conducting research into Whiteness within social work. It is argued that social work in Australia is built upon Western epistemologies, which continue to dominate contemporary Western social work. First Nations peoples, people seeking asylum and people of refugee background commonly access social work services and many also become social workers. Why then, with multiple knowledges available and ways of doing and being possible, is the Western white way predominantly and continuously privileged over others? Adopting a decolonising lens, this paper argues for an unlearning and de-privileging of what is taught within Australian social work and the position given to white people and Western knowledge as the mainstream. It is argued that Whiteness can be understood as an embodied experience, that sustains and propels the power and privilege of the West above the rest. In this paper, it is suggested that the process of critically examining the embodied experience of Whiteness (as it relates to the production of social work knowledge) calls for a valuing and privileging of unheard voices, voices from the periphery, voices often labelled “alternative voices”, voices that demand a transformational rethink of what constitutes social work knowledge.

Item Type: Conference Publication
Authors/Creators:Vincent, KD
Keywords: Whiteness, social work, knowledge, decolonisation, Western epistemology
Journal or Publication Title: Conference Proceedings of the TASA 2017 Conference
Publisher: The Australian Sociological Association
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Copyright 2017 TASA

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