At Kenan, Ben Ehrenreich talks ethics of storytelling in contested terrain
The Kenan Institute for Ethics hosted award-winning journalist and novelist Ben Ehrenreich Sept. 4, who spoke to a crowd of students, faculty, staff and community members to share insight on the ethics of telling stories in contested terrain.
Ehrenreich, who has written for New York Times Magazine, London Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine and more, reflected on his reporting for his most recent book, “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine,” and read selections to the audience. In his reporting for the book, Ehrenreich traveled to and lived in the West Bank, staying with Palestinian families in its largest cities and its smallest villages.
“As humans, all we have useable to us is highly contested terrain,” he said. “There is no other kind.”
Throughout his time there, Ehrenreich said he worked to find stories to highlight aspects of truth and humanity, and found the idea of contested terrain in Israel and Palestine as a theme that can be seen all over the world, accented by centuries of fighting and disagreement, from displacement of Native Americans to wars of Europe.
“When we talk about contested terrain, we’re also of course talking about histories,” he said. “Histories that remain alive in us, that shape our choices, our perceptions, our possibilities, our visions for the future.”