Green Books Campaign: Glossary of Terms for Anti-Oppressive Policy and Practice

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

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It’s Time for a Green Book: 1 Day, 100 Bloggers, 100 Green Books, 100 Reviews

Today at 1:00 PM ET, 100 bloggers will simultaneously review 100 different books as part of the Green Books Campaign. Organized by Eco-Libris, the project aims to promote “green” books (i.e., those printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper) – many of which discuss “green” topics as well: environmentalism, climate change, wildlife protection, activism, “green” frugalism and food (including vegan cooking!) – are all represented in today’s carnival. You can view a complete list of participating bloggers and their books here, with campaign updates here. As participant #94, I’ll be reviewing Glossary of Terms for Anti-Oppressive Policy and Practice from CommonAct Press. (Stay with me here!)

I found out about the project rather late in the game, so there was only a handful of unclaimed books from which to choose. Normally I would have picked a title more directly related to veganism – in particular, The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book caught my eye, and although it was already taken, the publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy anyhow; keep an eye out for a post or two in the coming weeks! – but given time and other limitations, I chose Glossary of Terms for Anti-Oppressive Policy and Practice. The monograph introduces students to anti-/oppressive terms and concepts – a useful exercise for anyone interested in social work and/or justice.

As I’ve argued here and elsewhere, animal liberation is closely tied to other, human social justice movements – if not traditionally thought of as a social justice movement per se. As advocates, it’s our responsibility to develop a working knowledge of prejudice and oppression in all their forms, and to avoid further marginalizing one group of already-marginalized animals on behalf of another. Practically speaking, this strategy can help us to build bridges (rather than burn them) and attract potential allies (rather than alienate others). More importantly, fighting for/alongside oppressed peoples – human and non – is also the right, the moral, the vegan thing to do. For these reasons, methinks A Glossary of AOP Terms is right at home here.

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Review: Glossary of Terms for Anti-Oppressive Policy and Practice, edited by Bill Lee, Sheila Sammon & Gary C. Dumbrill (2007)

Though compact, Glossary of Terms for Anti-Oppressive Policy and Practice packs quite the anti-oppressive punch into its 37 pages. Editors Bill Lee, Sheila Sammon and Gary C. Dumbrill (who are themselves social work educators) touch upon a number of terms and concepts that students will encounter in both theory and practice.

Through my own college studies (primarily women’s studies courses), as well as several years spent pouring over progressive blogs in lieu of the Democrat & Chronicle, I was previously familiar with many of these phrases: sexism, patriarchy, institutional racism, other(ing), relativism, dominant ideology. Even so, a few terms (service users’ knowledge, internalized oppression) were new to me.

Glossary of Terms for Anti-Oppressive Policy and Practice seems most appropriate for students taking advanced sociology or social work courses. (Indeed, a Google search for the book’s title reveals a number of course syllabuses in which the glossary is included.) However, these are terms with which all adults – particularly those taking up the mantle of “progressivism” – should be acquainted.

While the book’s breadth of coverage is generally good, there are a few areas of concern.*

(More below the fold…)