Dr. Elizabeth Pearson is a Lecturer at the Cyber Threats Research Centre (CyTReC), specialising in gender, extremism, and how to counter extremism. Elizabeth has an interest in offline and online and their intersections. She has worked with VOX-Pol, the EU’s online extremism research network, conducting research on gender in ISIS-supporting communities on Twitter.

She studied for her PhD in War Studies at King’s College London, where she explored gender in both ‘Islamist’ and ‘far-right’ movements in the UK through field research and interviews with activists. Elizabeth is also an Associate Fellow at RUSI and has carried out research for the London-based think tank examining attitudes to both Violent Extremism and Countering Violent Extremism in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada.

Elizabeth also maintains a dataset of female suicide bombing in West Africa and has an interest in issues of gender in relation to ‘Boko Haram’. 

She has worked with the European Union Technical Assistance to Nigeria’s Evolving Security Challenges (EUTANS) and with RUSI on CVE delivery in Nigeria.

Before academia, Elizabeth spent more than fifteen years with BBC radio where she worked in production, reporting and feature-making, mainly for BBC Radio Four.

Areas of Expertise

  • Terrorism
  • Gender
  • Countering Violent Extremism
  • Extremism
  • Radical Right
  • Violent Jihad

Publications

  1. Pearson, E. Extremism and toxic masculinity: the man question re-posed International Affairs 95 6 1251 1270
  2. Pearson, E. Online as the New Frontline: Affect, Gender, and ISIS-Take-Down on Social Media Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 1 25
  3. Pearson, E. The Case of Roshonara Choudhry: Implications for Theory on Online Radicalization, ISIS Women, and the Gendered Jihad Policy & Internet 8 1 5 33
  4. Pearson, E. Wilayat Shahidat: Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and the Question of the Female Suicide Bomber (Ed.), Boko Haram Beyond the Headlines: Analyses of Africa’s Enduring Insurgency 33 52 West Point, NY Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC)
  5. Brown, K., Pearson, E. Social Media, the Online Environment and Terrorism (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism

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Teaching

  • ASC317 Understanding & Countering Terrorism & Violent Extremism

    This module examines extremism as a contemporary and contentious issue in criminology. Students will examine contemporary extremism in all its forms from political to religious and critique counter-terrorism efforts globally, with a specific focus on preventative efforts. This module will help students understand the rising numbers of extremist groups in the 21st century, the violent acts associated with its members and the complexities involved in countering violent extremism today.

  • LAMM22 Contemporary Terrorism in Historical and Philosophical Context

    This compulsory module will provide students with an overview of both the historical and philosophical origins of contemporary ¿terrorism¿ and the theoretical frameworks through which political violence is understood. Students will be introduced to the topic of terrorism through exploration of historical cases. They will also explore the key models explaining terrorism and diverse theoretical approaches to its study. The course critically engages with the literature on terrorism, as well as the policies, programmes and responses designed to counter terrorism. Emphasis will be given to gender within responses to terrorism and as a factor in terrorism throughout.

  • LAMM24 Research Methods and Ethics

    This module will provide students with detailed and applied knowledge about empirical research in digital crime and terrorism. It also equips them with the necessary critical and analytic skills to be able to design, implement and disseminate the findings of empirical research projects focusing on a range of challenges linked to digital crime and terrorism. The module is structured into four blocks: (1) Empirical research design; (2) Analytic frameworks; (3) Research ethics/integrity, and researcher well-being; and (4) Co-developing research methodologies with stakeholders. As the above structure shows, Research Methods in Digital Crime and Terrorism covers the principles guiding decision making in empirical research projects ¿ from formulating viable aims and identifying (in)dependent analytic variables through to devising sound data collection methods and triangulating results. It also critically reviews established and new qualitative and quantitative frameworks for the analysis of digital crime and terrorism data, such as surveys, multimodality (image / sound), thematic, network and textual (linguistic) analysis. Within this, an emphasis is placed on the use of mix-methods approaches from a range of disciplines. The module moreover emphasises the importance of research ethics and integrity, paying particular attention to the responsibilities and welfare of researchers. Finally, the module introduces students to the practicalities of working with stakeholders (internet providers, law enforcement, policy makers, legislators, etc.) to co-develop scientifically rigorous and professionally implementable research methodologies that can address stakeholders¿ practical needs.

Supervision

  • Counter-terrorsim and the role of the new security actors: An ethnographic study (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Lella Nouri
    Other supervisor: Prof Stuart Macdonald

Key Grants and Projects

  • Kanishka Programme funded research into the gender dynamics of violent extremism and countering violent extremism, a Five-Country Project with RUSI. 2015 - 2016

  • ESRC funding for PhD Research into How Gender Factors in UK Extremism. 2014 - 2018