Social ecology of resilience and Sumud of Palestinians

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Marie, Mohammad ; Jones, Aled ; Hannigan, Ben (2018)
  • Publisher: Sage
  • Journal: Health (London, England : 1997), volume 22, issue 1, pages 20-35 (issn: 1363-4593, eissn: 1461-7196)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1177/1363459316677624, pmc: PMC5731605
  • Subject: Sumud | Palestine | cultural context | H1 | Articles | resilience | social ecology

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of theoretical perspectives and practical research knowledge in relation to ‘resilience’, the resilience of Palestinians in particular and the related concept of ‘Sumud’. ‘Sumud’ is a Palestinian idea that is interwoven with ideas of personal and collective resilience and steadfastness. It is also a socio-political concept and refers to ways of surviving in the context of occupation, chronic adversity, lack of resources and limited infrastructure. The concept of ‘resilience’ has deep roots, going back at least to the 10th century when Arabic scholars suggested strategies to cope with life adversity. In Europe, research into resilience extends back to the 1800s. The understanding of resilience has developed over four overlapping waves. These focus on individual traits, protective factors, ecological assets and (in the current wave) social ecological factors. The current wave of resilience research focuses on the contribution of cultural contextualisation and is an approach that is discussed in this article, which draws on Arabic and English language literature located through a search of multiple databases (CINAHL, British Nursing Index, ASSIA, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and EMBASE). Findings suggest that ‘Sumud’ is linked to the surrounding cultural context and can be thought of as an innovative, social ecological, approach to promoting resilience. We show that resilience is a prerequisite to ‘Sumud’, meaning that the individual has to be resilient in order to stay and not to leave their place, position or community. We close by pressing the case for studies which investigate resilience especially in underdeveloped countries such as Palestine (occupied Palestinian territories), and which reveal how resilience is embedded in pre-existing cultural contexts.
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