Series: Harjeet Badwall Episode#1: Social Work – A history of racist structures and experience.

About this Session

OIP-7On Friday November 6th: Interview with Harjeet Badwall.

An excerpt for Harjeet’s paper we will be discussing:

Theoretically, my research was anchored in race theory (critical race scholarship, post-colonial studies), post-structural feminism, and critical race scholars who utilize Foucauldian concepts of discourse, power, subject-formation, and governmentality.

These theoretical entry points enabled me to examine the racial foundations upon which social work as a profession is produced (Jeffery, 2002), in addition to exploring the experiences of social workers of colour as they negotiate both a racist profession and racist environments.

My central aim was to trace the ongoing mechanisms of whiteness in social work in order to reveal the ways in which racialized bodies are regulated through discourses that re-centre whiteness within the profession. Through the use of race scholarship I examined how racism is integral to modernity and the liberal project, the formation of the state, and white dominance in social work (Goldberg, 1993, Hesse, 2004; Jeffery, 2002).


Harjeet Badwall PhD

Harjeet Badwall

Harjeet Badwall is an Associate Professor at York University’s School of Social Work in Toronto, Canada and training faculty member with the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy. Her primary areas of research focus on Race, Racism and Whiteness in Social Work, racialized and gender-based violence, the connection between narrative therapy practice and theory, interlocking analysis…


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Comments (2)

  1. David says:

    Harjeet and Stephen, I very much enjoyed your conversation! Stephen thanks for arranging this interview with Harjeet and creating the space for this important topic. Harjeet, when I read your bio on the about the interview, I was excited—a social work professor (you) who’s work and research is grounded in critical race theory, Foucauldian discourse analysis, post-colonial theory, and other aligned framework. As a professor of social work at California State University, Sacramento I was comforted to find out there is another social work professor whose work is situated within theoretical traditions and politics.

    I enjoyed the counter narrative/talking back to the social work profession in your conversation with Stephen. I really liked how you said that social workers need to expose the operations of whiteness and liberal normativity with “surgical precision.” Your critique of social work—believing/masquerading as a virtuous profession was precise and erudite. Thank you. I really like the Margolin quote you shared: “that social work imagines itself as a site of social justice.”

    That quote really resonated me. Since the George Floyd murder and the subsequent protest and responses, the faculty in my social work department have been having a number of discussions on how we can have more conversations with our students about white supremacy. Your work, including your article, “Colonial Encounters,” helped me to articulate and expose the problems with the conversations we are having in my dept on anti-racism. The conversations are operating from a taken for granted assumption that social work is a righteous, anti-racist profession which hides that reality that social work is deeply embedded in white supremacy.

    So, thank you. I look forward to learning more about your work. I plan on assigning your article in my class—I know it will lead to some rich conversation with my students; conversations that hopefully talk back to the hegemony of mainstream social work.

    David Nylund

  2. says:

    Thank you for a really interesting conversation. Can’t wait to read the article/paper:)


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