“In My Eyes He Was a Man”: Poor and Working-Class Boy Soldiers in the Iran-Iraq War

Citation:

Ahmadi, Shaherzad R. 2018. "'In My Eyes He Was a Man': Poor and Working-Class Boy Soldiers in the Iran-Iraq War." Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 14 (2): 174-192.

Author: Shaherzad R. Ahmadi

Abstract:

During the Pahlavi period in Iran (1925–79), poor and working-class families were more likely to expect young sons to work to support the household. These boys, in turn, were more autonomous. Middle-class families, on the other hand, protected and controlled boys. Researchers have assumed that religious zealotry was the primary inspiration for boys to enlist in the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, ignoring the ways in which class inflected boyhood. While religious fervor may have been a motivation for some of the poor and working-class Iranian boys (between ten and fourteen) who enlisted, the expectation that they work took precedence. Moreover, at least some of these boys were eager to participate in war-front masculine homosociality rather than remain in feminized domestic spaces. This study analyzes biographies, census data, newspaper accounts, and original oral history interviews.

Keywords: Iran-Iraq War, childhood, boy soldiers, Pahlavi Iran, class

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Class, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Male Combatants, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iran

Year: 2018

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