I chose this research because I am interested in better understanding how radicalization is influenced by respective conditions within different communities and what this means for efforts to counter or prevent violent extremism. While much CVE work has been done on London, relatively little has been done in Lebanon, making it an interesting point of comparison, particularly given its proximity to Syria and the objective socio-economic challenges faced by vulnerable communities.
I am considering either pursuing a PhD after I finish my time at SSP or looking for work in the UK or Lebanon so this has been a very valuable experience so far. While working in Lebanon I have built some great connections locally and in the broader field of people studying the region. I hope to be able to leverage these connections in the future whether I am looking for a job or pursuing further research in the region. My time in Lebanon and London is also a great trial run for me in terms of whether or not I am interested in conducting fieldwork as part of a PhD in the future.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned so far is the importance of local contacts in understanding the security landscape in a given area. Lebanon is considered a high-risk country however it is difficult to get a concrete sense of the nature of threats from embassy warnings. For me, closely following local media and talking with Lebanese friends and foreigners with significant time spent living in Lebanon has been incredibly value in helping me to get a better sense of how best to ensure my personal safety and to conduct my research in a way that does not pose any risk of harm to those that participate.