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Decolonizing qualitative research through transformative community engagement: critical investigation of resilience with Palestinian refugees in the West Bank

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Histories of violence and ongoing settler-colonialism impacting Palestinian communities living under Israeli occupation require unique, critical enactments of psychology research. The current article reflects on community engagement strategies used in a qualitative study of resilience with Palestinian refugees entitled: Palestinian Refugee Family Trees of Resilience (PRFTR). In realizing PRFTR, the authors developed partnerships between University of Massachusetts Boston’s clinical psychology program and a Community-Based Organization in a United Nations refugee camp in the West Bank, completing in-depth interviews (N=30) with families surviving complex histories of settler-colonial violence. Participatory engagement, decolonial theories, and grounded theory situational analysis, together helped generate understandings of resilience from indigenous perspectives. This article analyzes PRFTR’s power dynamics and investigative processes, highlighting seven transformative community engagement strategies implemented Before and During research activities, outlined in a step-wise “A to G” framework. These seven strategies contribute to understandings of decolonizing enactments of qualitative methods within a Middle Eastern context.
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Keywords: Community engagement; Palestinian refugees; critical research; decolonizing qualitative methods; family resilience; settler-colonialism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Boston University School of Education, Boston, MA, USA 2: Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Public Policy Research and Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies Program, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA 3: 1for3, Boston, MA, USA 4: Boston-based, certificated Arabic-English medical interpreter and translator and member of Boston Interpreters Collective, USA 5: Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies Program and Psychology and Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2018

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