Healing past wounds or addressing the future? Critical social work in post-war settings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to book/anthologyResearch


In this chapter, recent trends in (post-)war humanitarian assistance programs are critically examined with northern Uganda as the empirical case. The chapter shows how assistance programs largely center on individual mental health related to past violent experiences at the expense of addressing structurally derived problems such as poverty and land related conflict. It is shown how assistance programs largely overlook local perspectives on what problems ought to be addressed, and how frontline social workers seem uncritical in relation to the unequal power relations they take part in. This is problematic if social work is to realize its own core values such as human dignity. To ensure that social work in post-war contexts realizes the values of social work, an approach grounded in critical reflection is suggested. This type of critical social work would entail deliberate enquiry into what recipients of services find important, as well as skeptical scrutiny of unequal power relations, and that social workers would perform the role of social critics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevitalising critical reflection in contemporary social work research, practice and education
EditorsChristian Franklin Svensson, Pia Ringø
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9781032163178, 9781032163420
ISBN (Electronic)9781003248057
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesRoutledge Advances In Social Work


  • social work and social conditions
  • Uganda
  • child soldiers
  • critical reflection
  • deliberative inquiry
  • power inequality


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