Ethics & Social Welfare, CALL FOR PAPERS Displacement: Historical and Contemporary Responsibilities for Social Work and Human Services

Ethics & Social Welfare, Call for Papers

Historical and Contemporary Responsibilities for Social
Work and Human Services

Guest Editors

Dorothee Hӧlscher, School of Human Services and Social Work,Griffith University
Sharlene Nipperess, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University

The purpose of this special issue is to explore historical and contemporary responsibilities of scholars, educators and practitioners within social work and human services in the face of displacement, (forced) migration and forms of historical trauma to which these phenomena are linked. To this end, we are inviting colleagues to contribute papers that will -

  • Consider the implications of developing understandings concerning the root causes of displacement and (forced) migration;
  • Reconsider established ethical understandings, approaches and theories in relation to displacement, (forced) migration and forms of historical trauma to which they give rise;and/or -
  • Critically reflect on existing and emerging efforts within social work and human service education and practice that seek to respond to human needs in connection with displacement, forced migration and historical trauma.

Recently, Nancy Fraser (2019), Étienne Balibar (2019) and Achille Mbembe (2019) presented a trilogy of papers which dealt, among other topics, with the crisis of global capitalism in the 21st century. All three scholars were concerned with the increasing presence of ecological,economic, political and social catastrophes and the ways in which they are entwined at a global scale. They also noted a growing incapacity of, and the injustices inherent in, national borders as tools for attempting to contain the ecological, economic, political and social fallout from these interconnected crisis nodes (see also Fraser, 2009; Fraser & Jaeggi, 2018). An important aspect of this dynamic is the growing volume, complexity and turbulence of displacement and migrations (including forced migrations) among populations within and from regions of the Global South, and evolving regimes of their management and control, which resemble what Mbembe (2003) and Rosi Braidotti (2013) have referred to as necropolitics.

Significant is also the historical dimension of this debate: colonial conquest, subjugation, enslavement, exploitation and extermination of people, non-human animals and their shared habitats, in conjunction with extractive economies developed in the former colonies, continue to operate, to date, in regions of the Global South as continuations of imperialism and forms of
coloniality (Maldonado-Torres 2008; Mignolo 2011; Giraldo 2016). These processes have given rise not just to different forms of resistance and to changing modes of survival, but the concept of coloniality also serves as a reminder that large-scale displacement and population movements are integral to capitalist expansion, now spanning over 500 years. Thus, writers on
the topic of (forced) migration have been pointing out that while many currently displaced people do not leave their national borders and many remain within regions of the Global South,many others do follow established migratory routes that link former colonial powers to the regions from which people are displaced, migrate and flee (see for example, Massey et al. 1998; Papastergiadis 2000; Castles, De Haas & Miller 2014). The effects of these displacements, the trauma and often unspeakable memories to which they have given rise often reverberate across generations and across boundaries of space and time in ways that are rarely acknowledged, even as they entangle seemingly diverse societies and their members in complex yet discernable ways (Carswell, Blackburn & Carter 2011; Morgan, Melluish & Welham 2017; Filges, Montgomery & Kastrup 2018). Whether in direct or indirect practice, and whether at the macro, meso or micro levels of practice - social workers, human service providers and their service users are not exempt from these dynamics (Hölscher, Kanamugire and Udah, forthcoming).

The number of people affected by the fallout from the capitalist crisis is huge and growing, as available figures suggest. The United Nations General Assembly established the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) on December 14, 1950. The intention was that after three years it would be disbanded once it had completed its work of resettling the large numbers of displaced people following World War Two. Nearly 70 years later, the UNHCR has not disbanded. On the contrary, by the end of 2018 the UNHCR estimated that the number of displaced people, including asylum seekers, refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless persons, had reached 74.8 million: ‘the highest figure ever’ (UNHCR 2018: 10). Of these 74.8 million, there were just under 41.5 million internally displaced people, over 20 million recognised refugees and over 3.5 million asylum seekers. The continent of Africa continues to host a significant number of displaced people (35%), followed by the Middle East and North Africa (20%), The Americas (17%), Europe (15%), Asia and the Pacific (13%) (UNHCR 2018). Europe hosts the largest percentage of refugees (32%), The Americas host the largest percentage of asylum seekers (37%) and Africa hosts the largest share of internally displaced people (43%).

Questions of definition are vexed when it comes to people movements generally and displacement specifically. Indeed, the distinction between voluntary and involuntary (forced) migration is increasingly viewed as unsustainable (Marfleet 2007). Thus, so-called economic migrants who migrate for employment opportunities, and migrants who move for family reunion reasons, often have similar reasons to refugees and other displaced people for leaving their country of origin. In addition, the growing politicisation of migration has resulted in the tightening of immigration policies and border controls, and this has led to increases in irregular migration including people smuggling and human trafficking, highlighting that the official UNHCR figures are likely to significantly underestimate the numbers of people who are displaced. Alongside the contemporary experiences of displacement is the ongoing impact of historical injustices such as the slave trade and colonial atrocities that led to the uprooting and decimation of Indigenous peoples, which cannot be quantified.

Against this background, this special issue seeks to explore the following questions:

  1. What kinds of ethical challenges and dilemmas arise for social work and human service practitioners from the changing nature of displacement, (forced) migration, and regimes of migration governance?
  2. What are the ethical implications of colonial conquest, subjugation and displacement, and of the historical trauma to which these have given rise, for social work and human service professions?
  3. What kinds of new ethical insights arise for social work and human service professions from contemporary debates around capitalist crisis, from anti-imperial and decolonial scholarship, and from available critiques of contemporary migration governance regimes?
  4. How might the phenomena of displacement, (forced) migration and related historical trauma inform a reconsideration of established ethical understandings, approaches and theories in the fields of social work and human services?
  5. What could be the contribution of critical practice theories in social work and human services - including, but not limited to, feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, decolonial, anti-imperial, indigenist and posthumanist theorising and practice - in the areas of
    displacement, (forced) migration and related historical trauma?
  6. What opportunities arise for social work and human service ethics education from developing insights around displacement, (forced) migration and related historical trauma?

In response to these questions, we encourage the submission of both conceptual and empirical manuscripts. Papers should not be under consideration in another publication outlet. Evaluation criteria will include:

  • Contribution to improved understandings of displacement, (forced) migration and historical trauma, and of their implications for social work and human services;
  • Advancement of empirical, theoretical and ethical knowledge, practice and debate;
  • Quality of conclusions and recommendations for future research, analysis and practice.

Guidelines for Authors

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words for consideration, by 31 October 2019, to the editors:

Please indicate which of the outlined question(s) you intend to address. The editors welcome authors to discuss their pieces with them in advance of submission.

Prospective contributors will receive notification of acceptance of their abstracts by 30 November 2019. Please note that abstracts that are not accepted for the special issue on Displacement may still be guaranteed inclusion in one of the later editions of Ethics & Social Welfare. Thus, upon submission of an abstract, authors will be advised as follows:

  • Acceptance for inclusion in special issue;
  • Provisional acceptance, possibly for inclusion in later issues;
  • Unsuccessful submission.

Publication of the special issue is anticipated in Volume 14(3), i.e. in October 2020. Thus, to be included, full papers of a maximum of 8000 words (including tables, references, figure captions, footnotes, endnotes, including references, preferably using APA 6) will be due by 31 March 2020.