Richard McNeil-Willson holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter (UK), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (2019), which explored the impact of counterterrorism policy on Hizb ut-Tahrir groups in Western Europe. He holds additional degrees from the universities of Edinburgh, Durham and Exeter (UK), as well as visiting fellowships from the universities of Aarhus (Denmark) and Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy).
During the Max Weber Fellowship, Richard will be developing several publications and monographs, focussing on critically exploring the continued development of counterterror and counterextremism policy in Europe, the impact of such policies on groups labelled ‘extremist’, as well as the potential implication this has for wider societal polarisation. He is interested in understanding how concepts of extremism are constructed, as well as links between counterterror practice and state violence, such as settler colonialism.
He was formerly the Main Researcher for the European Commission-funded Building Resilience against Violent Extremism and Polarisation (BRaVE) project, based at the European University Institute (2019-2021), as well as being seconded to the European Commission Directorate General of Migration and Home Affairs (DG Home), working to develop EU-wide responses to violent right-wing organisations and online content.
Richard has lectured on several courses in Arab and Islamic Studies and politics at the University of Exeter, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.