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Dr Ryan Williams

Dr Ryan Williams

Affiliated Research Associate, Prisons Research Centre


Dr Ryan J. Williams completed his PhD in the Faculty of Divinity (Cambridge) in 2012 and joined the Prisons’ Research Centre in 2013 as Co-Investigator with Prof. Alison Liebling on ‘Locating Trust in a Climate of Fear’. Trained in religious studies and the sociology of religion, Ryan’s current interests lie in the study of religion in prisons, with attention to prisoner hierarchies and identity negotiations; religion and security; and Islamic identity, belonging and citizenship. He currently holds a Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada Post-Doctoral Fellowship where he is exploring issues around Islam and citizenship in secular and securitized environments. Prior to this, Ryan conducted research on inter-religious dialogue and contemporary religious movements.

Subject groups/Research projects

Locating trust in a climate of fear:

Prisons Research at Cambridge University

The Prisons Research Centre (PRC) was founded in 2000, under the Directorship of Professor Alison Liebling. The Centre has received funding from a wide range of sources, including the Prison Service/NOMS, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the ESRC, KPMG, the Home Office and UKDS (now Kalyx).

The Cambridge Institute of Criminology Prisons Research Centre aims to provide a stimulating research environment in which a coherent strategy of high quality research can be pursued, and integration between funded and non-funded, and applied and theoretical projects can be facilitated. We investigate how prisons operate, socially, morally and operationally, how they are experienced, and the relationship between these moral and social qualities, and their effects.

Members of the PRC team carry out, individually and collectively, methodologically rigorous and theoretically relevant field-based studies addressing problems of human and social values, punishment practices, and the organisation and effects of aspects of prison life. We strive to forge links with other prisons researchers, scholars in the broader fields of criminology and sociology, and with practitioners. Our vision is to develop a rigorous and person-centred model of social inquiry.

You can read more about the latest projects in our Annual Reports.