A Comparative Study of Violent Extremism in Afghanistan’s Millennial and Generation Z

Lima Ahmad

My proposed dissertation project proposes to compare and contrast two groups of the Afghan youth – the millennial (born 1980s to 1995), and generation Z (born 1995 to 2005)– in the context of violent extremism. In doing so, we can identify and document specific factors that affect these generations’ responses to violent extremism. Both of these two generations were born in conflict and war. However, their circumstances and exposure to the world have been different. For example, the millennial generation was born during the Soviet Union occupation; they experienced bloody civil wars, and witnessed migration; they lived through the Taliban’s dark era, the American occupation, and globalization. On the other hand, the younger Generation Z was born when Western soldiers were already in the country and when suicide attacks were part of daily life. At the same time, Facebook, iPhones and travel to the neighboring countries for vacations were normal features of like to which this generation felt entitled to.  Such varied experiences are likely to manifest in different effects on views, vulnerabilities, and responses to violent extremism between the two cohorts. Results from this research can inform the work of policymakers and practitioners to better address the causal mechanism’s driving the variation demonstrated among these two generations.