What is lost generation? A case study of Iraqs youth

Fanny Elisabeth Maria Toepper, Ludvig Vraadal, Michela Francesconi, Samara Al Janabi & Jakub Szubbar Slusarek

Studenteropgave: Basisprojekt


The project report is an attempt of creating new knowledge around the definition of lost generation using Iraq as a case. Researching on how the concept has been used by writers, scholars and medias we were able to create a framework and understand its different connotations. By critically reflecting on the existing written materials we came up with our own definition of a lost generation, closely related to the link between education and future. We assess as lost a generation whose hopes have been taken away by the war and whose future possibilities have been limited by the lack of education. The conclusion of our report will aim to assess whether the concept of the lost generation can be applied to the current Iraqi generation. Our methodology will include the analysis of the historical education background of Iraq, since we find important to look into the past for understanding the present circumstances. We draw on empirical data to understand when the decline of the educational system started, turning one of the most educated countries in the Arab world to one with the highest rates of illiteracy. Today the educational system has not recovered from the destruction of the 2003 US-led invasion, schools are damaged, the few existing libraries are lacking academic materials, teachers receive low salaries. An analysis of non-formal education has been conducted and it brought a new conception of educational activities that are often not taken into consideration by western scholars. We analysed how the the term lost generation has been used to describe the case of Iraq and questioned the authors choice of using the term. Throughout time a lost generation has been used for describing various phenomena and it has developed many connotations. They differs in individuating the causative factors of a lost generation, for instance, the UN sanctions, the US-led invasion or the murders of the intellectual class. However, all of the connotations involve the broken hopes and low future expectations. By using our theoretical framework we questioned whether the assumption that lack of formal education directly reflects the presence of a lost generation. Said’s orientalism and deconstructing development discourse are integrative parts of our final discussion on the use of lost generation term. Critically we assess the catchyness of the term and we argue that authors used it as a buzzword for attracting readers. Back to the link between formal education and hopes for the future, we argue that the limitations that the current youth is facing are not new to the country. The history of Iraq has been characterised by conflicts for more than 30 years and the various wars have produced a lack of education for many generations. We came to reflect that the previous Iraqi generations all fit the definition of a lost generation having education as determinant factor. This consideration requires us to admit that the current generation is not experienced anything different from their parents and grandparents and therefore we cannot define it as lost generation. We strongly recommend that more research to be conducted in this field. This could be done by researching if the whole region of the middle-east could be deemed lost, here we suggest that you would still look at education as the main indicator. But you would also take more aspects into considerations such as child security and extremist religious teachings.

UddannelserBasis - International Samfundsvidenskabelig Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato19 dec. 2017
Antal sider53
VejledereEric Komlavi Hahonou