Insights from Former Extremists

This project draws from the voices of those who have engaged in hatred, namely, former extremists, sharing their experiences and thoughts on how to build resilience against radicalization leading to violent extremism and hatred. Voices of law enforcement officials and community-based activists are also included in these discussions, all in an effort to develop multi-stakeholder, evidence-based strategies and learning material to combat violent extremism and hatred in Canada.

 

Videos

Here are 3 interviews with former extremists. They were recorded in collaboration with the Hate to Hope massive open online course (for more information see here). Brad Galloway, Maxime Fiset, and Mubin Shaikh talk about their personal experiences.

Team

Ryan Scrivens PhD

Ryan Scrivens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. Ryan served as a Horizon Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University with Project Someone between 2017 and 2019.

Vivek Venkatesh PhD

Vivek Venkatesh is UNESCO co-Chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism, and Associate Professor of Inclusive Practices in Visual Arts in the Department of Art Education at the Faculty of Fine Arts. He is an interdisciplinary and applied learning scientist who investigates the psychological, cultural and cognitive factors impacting the design, development and inclusive adoption of digital media in educational and social contexts.

Maxime Bérubé PhD

Maxime Bérubé is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow working with Project SOMEONE and the UNESCO-PREV Chair to create social education strategies in order to prevent radicalization and violent extremism. His research interests focus on influence activities leading to violence, computational propaganda, social movements and open source data analysis.

Paper

Combating Violent Extremism: Voices of Former Right-Wing Extremists

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

By Ryan Scrivens, Vivek Venkatesh, Maxime Bérubé, Tiana Gaudette

While it has become increasingly common for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to draw from the insights of former extremists to combat violent extremism, overlooked in this evolving space has been an in-depth look at how formers perceive such efforts. To address this gap, interviews were conducted with 10 Canadian former right-wing extremists based on a series of questions provided by 30 Canadian law enforcement officials and 10 community activists. Overall, formers suggest that combating violent extremism requires a multidimensional response, largely consisting of support from parents and families, teachers and educators, law enforcement officials, and other credible formers.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1057610X.2019.1686856

Converging Patterns in Pathways in and out of Violent Extremism: Insights from Former Canadian Right-Wing Extremists

Perspectives on Terrorism

by Maxime Bérubé, Ryan Scrivens, Vivek Venkatesh, and Tiana Gaudette

In recent years, research on pathways in and out of violent extremism has grown at a staggering rate. Yet much of what is known about these oftentimes “mysterious” processes does not necessarily shed light on the specific aspects of right-wing extremism, and especially not from a Canadian perspective. In an effort to bridge this gap, we use a life-course criminology approach to draw from the voices of former extremists to gain insights into their respective trajectories in and out of violent extremism. A total of 10 life course interviews were conducted with former Canadian members of violent right-wing extremist groups. Analyses of these data suggest that even if there is no single trajectory in and out of violent extremism, there are still converging patterns such as the attraction for common pull factors and a profound dedication to the right-wing cause. Our analyses also demonstrate that the emotional toll of leaving the movement is often characterized by exhaustion, isolation and regrets. 

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