Ensuring Security while Conducting Research and Fieldwork on Countering and Preventing Religious and Far-Right Violent Extremism: The Case of Southeastern Europe


  • Rrustemi Arlinda Leiden University


Security Risks, Security Preparedness, Fieldwork, Religious Violent Extremism, Far-Right Violent Extremism


Field research on preventing and countering (non) violent extremism (P/CVE) is challenging for researchers as it poses many risks to themselves and their participants alike. Risks are present during all three stages of fieldwork, namely: pre-, during- and post. However, there are some risks unique to religious or far-right violent extremism respectively. Oftentimes, these radicalization type-specific risks also differ based on the politicization of the research and based on whether the country has autocratic tendencies or not. Another subset of risks is more readily generalizable. These are linked to gender, collaboration vs. competition among civil society, trauma, and work-life balance. It behooves researchers to be aware of these risks prior to embarking on fieldwork, and to formulate mitigation strategies to account for them. Based on the results and experiences in the field from a research project conducted in Southeastern Europe – “Countering Radicalisation through Lifestories” (Rrustemi, 2020) – this article outlines a model for improving researchers’ security before, during, and after fieldwork. In doing so, it aims to fill a significant gap in the literature. Few previous studies have provided a comprehensive overview of the challenges researchers face while conducting fieldwork, something which this study sets out to correct. By outlining a model for improving researchers’ safety, it also aims to contribute to better the quality and quantity of research on the P/CVE.


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