A community-based qualitative study of intergenerational resilience with Palestinian refugee families facing structural violence and historical trauma

Author(s): Devin G. ATALLAH



The purpose of this study was to explore resilience processes in Palestinian refugee families living under Israeli occupation for multiple generations. Qualitative methods, critical postcolonial theories, and community-based research approaches were used to examine intergenerational protective practices and to contribute to reconceptualizations of resilience from indigenous perspectives. First, the researcher developed a collaborative partnership with a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in a UN refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Then, with the support of this NGO, semistructured group and individual interviews were completed with a total of 30 participants (N = 30) ranging in age from 18 to 90 years old coming from 5 distinct extended family networks. Using grounded theory situational analysis, the findings were organized in a representation entitled Palestinian Refugee Family Trees of Resilience (PRFTR). These findings explain resilience in terms of three interrelated themes: (a) Muqawama/resistance to military siege and occupation; (b) Awda/return to cultural roots despite historical and ongoing settler colonialism; and (c) Sumoud/perseverance through daily adversities and accumulation of trauma. The study findings shed light on how Palestinian families cultivate positive adaptation across generations and highlight how incorporating community-based perspectives on the historical trauma and violent social conditions of everyday life under occupation may be critical for promoting resilience. Results may be relevant to understanding the transgenerational transmission of trauma and resilience within other displaced communities internationally.

Tags: Palestine, Refugees, Families, Resilience, Transgenerational transmission, Traumatic life events, Trauma

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