Stories from Palestine: Narratives of Resilience

Marda Dunsky

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Stories from Palestine profiles Palestinians engaged in creative and productive pursuits in their everyday lives in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Their narratives amplify perspectives and experiences of Palestinians exercising their own constructive agency.

In Stories from Palestine: Narratives of Resilience, Marda Dunsky presents a vivid overview of contemporary Palestinian society in the venues envisioned for a future Palestinian state. Dunsky has interviewed women and men from cities, towns, villages, and refugee camps who are farmers, scientists, writers, cultural innovators, educators, and entrepreneurs. Using their own words, she illuminates their resourcefulness in navigating agriculture, education, and cultural pursuits in the West Bank; persisting in Jerusalem as a sizable minority in the city; and confronting the challenges and uncertainties of life in the Gaza Strip. Based on her in-depth personal interviews, the narratives weave in quantitative data and historical background from a range of primary and secondary sources that contextualize Palestinian life under occupation.

More than a collection of individual stories, Stories from Palestine presents a broad, cross-cut view of the tremendous human potential of this particular society. Narratives that emphasize the human dignity of Palestinians pushing forward under extraordinary circumstances include those of an entrepreneur who markets the yields of Palestinian farmers determined to continue cultivating their land, even as the landscape is shrinking; a professor and medical doctor who aims to improve health in local Palestinian communities; and an award-winning primary school teacher who provides her pupils a safe and creative learning environment. In an era of conflict and divisiveness, Palestinian resilience is relatable to people around the world who seek to express themselves, to achieve, to excel, and to be free. Stories from Palestine creates a new space from which to consider Palestinians and peace.


"Marda Dunsky is not only courageous in confronting Palestinian reality but also provides essential context and necessary access to Palestinian voices, which are generally unheard or ignored by Western academic and nonacademic audiences. Overall, she succeeds in amplifying Palestinian voices in their own words, highlighting their humanity and creative agency outside of narrow stereotypes. The voices she brings forth in Stories from Palestine need to be heard and contextualized, and time is of the essence." ―Deema K. Shehabi, author of Thirteen Departures from the Moon

"Marda Dunsky brings a unique combination of a journalist’s storytelling ability, a scholar’s discipline and depth of knowledge, and long first-hand experience in the Middle East to her stories about Palestinian life in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Besides providing us with a compelling narrative, Dunsky provides the reader context for understanding a conflict most Americans know only in caricatured terms." ―Craig LaMay, author of Exporting Press Freedom

"Palestinians rarely feature as ordinary people in most portrayals of them, which are marred by sensationalism and superficiality. In a welcome departure, Stories from Palestine illustrates the reality of Palestinian lives by showing their human potential, their strivings, and their successes. Meticulously reported, this uplifting but gritty book illuminates human aspects of their existence that must be understood if there is to be any hope of justice, equality, and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis." ―Rashid Khalidi, author of Brokers of Deceit

"Palestinians are geniuses at making a way out of no way, of defying a 50-year occupation with courage and creativity. . . . Dunsky is unsparing in describing the human rights violations Palestinians endure, but her interview subjects want to be seen not as victims but as vibrant people with much to contribute." ―Booklist

"The main thread running through all the narratives in Stories from Palestine is resilience under occupation and authoritarian self-rule: Resistance to archaic social traditions, family despotism, male domination, and most significantly, Israeli occupation. . . . The narratives . . . do not yield a quaint painting of a distant landscape. Instead, as the author explains, they are a mirror reflecting not only what can be empirically experienced but also what can be critically known." ―Fathom

“Stories from Palestine foregoes the usual framing of Palestinians as either victims or perpetrators of violence. Instead Marda Dunsky profiles a number of quite remarkable people who have resisted the pull of despair, said no to the appeal of hatred and violence, and summoned the will and perseverance to act as creative agents of change.” ―The Friend: The Quaker Magazine

"Marda Dunsky has written a compelling book about Palestinians that intertwines narratives of ordinary people, Israeli-Palestinian history, and her own scholarly artistry as a writer. Through the eyes of women and men she charts a complete landscape that will be the future State of Palestine." ―H-Nationalism, H-Net Reviews

"A reporter and journalist, Dunsky portrays what life and work is like for several of the 5 million Palestinians living under occupation in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. . . . [T]he author’s ethnographic account offers narratives of the everyday struggles, accomplishments, hopes, and strengths of her subjects as an alternative to the characterization of Palestinians as violent resisters or brutalized victims." ―Choice

About the Author

Marda Dunsky, assistant professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, is a print journalist and journalism scholar. Her research focuses on underreported aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Her teaching focuses on best practices of reporting and writing. She has taught global journalism on the faculty of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has held editing and reporting positions at the Chicago Tribune and Jerusalem Post. She is the author of Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, among other works.

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