Lydia Wilson

Lydia Wilson

Position: Research Associate

Department: Computer Laboratory

Keywords: Extremism, hate speech, radicalisation, conflict, Middle East

My work spans many disciplines and sectors to research the roots of violence and terrorism.

Currently, I work in the Computer Lab’s Cybercrime Centre, building and using their databases on extremist content to understand individuals’ trajectories through an extremist movement, and also researching the function of hate speech in extremist movements, and what to do to limit its use online. Pre-covid, my work to understand why people join violent movements was done through fieldwork, mostly in the Middle East, interviewing in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, but also researching in the Balkans and the UK. I have interviewed extremists from ISIS and Al-Qaeda, religious, political and social leaders, families and friends of extremists and police and prison guards to better understand why people join violent extremist movements.

As well as working in religious studies, psychology, anthropology, political science and computer science, I have worked outside academia, with consultancy positions with various UN agencies and with NGOs on projects designed to counter violent extremist organisations. I have done a lot of work with UNICEF in Jordan, working on issues around social cohesion with children in refugee camps and centres. I also edit the Cambridge Literary Review and am a contributing editor at Newlines magazine, writing a lot of popular articles as well as academic research.

Get in touch: lsmw2 [at] or @lsmwilson on Twitter