Letter from the editor:
I am pleased to share the 2020/2021 Columbia University Press social work catalog. If I were to pick a theme tying these books together, it would be “social work with the overlooked.” Social workers often serve the least of us, the people left behind or ignored, the ones who suffer in silence. The new books that have debuted this year all bring up the issues of populations that are often at the back of the line.
Last year in this same letter, I wrote that in politically precarious times, social workers renew their commitments to the most vulnerable among us. Last year’s books illuminated the immigrant, the refugee, the young inner-city adult, the nonbinary adolescent. This year a new crop of books are concerned with a new set of populations: the military veteran, the Black teenager, the incarcerated older adult, the genderqueer client.
In Measuring the Effects of Racism, the psychologists Robert Carter and Alex Pieterse propose an approach to understanding racism that connects particular experiences and incidents with a person’s individual psychological and emotional response. They detail how practitioners can evaluate the specific effects of race-based encounters that produce psychological distress and possibly impairment or trauma.
In Sex-Positive Social Work, SJ Dodd, who has taught a human sexuality course within an MSW program for more than twenty years, presents a helpful, practical guide to sex, sexuality, and gender for clinicians and students who want to run an inclusive, understanding practice.
In Aging Behind Prison Walls, the social work researchers Tina Maschi and Keith Morgen study one of our criminal justice system’s overlooked populations: incarcerated older adults. Separated from their families and communities despite a low risk of recidivism, incarcerated older adults represent a major social-justice issue—what is it like to spend your sixties, seventies, and eighties in prison?
In Psychiatric Casualties, the trauma researchers Mark Russell and Charles Figley illuminate one hundred years of negligence within the U.S. military complex. Again and again, the military has ignored the psychiatric cost of war—all to the detriment of our service members. An invaluable guide to military social workers and anyone who works with veterans.
And, lastly, in Downsizing, the gerontologist Dave Ekerdt explores the social and psychological sides of a process that many older adults eventually come to: shedding their possessions. In this charming and sensitive account, Ekerdt explores how the material convoy of one’s possessions accumulates over a life, and what it means to downsize.
I hope my enthusiasm for these books comes through—I am proud to have published them. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or ideas for other books that can join their ranks.
Editor, Social Work