Kazuyo Minamide, a Japanese anthropologist, stayed in Bangladesh for more than 20 years and observed a generation growing up and their transformation through the various stages of their lives - navigating things like life goals and identity politics.
In 2002, she studied in class four at a primary school in Jamalpur with 38 students. She refers to these 38 as her "classmates". Since then, she has documented how her classmates' lives took shape in the Bangladeshi socio-economic context.
Her book Millennial Generation in Bangladesh examines how the characteristics and experiences of the generation born in the 1990s reflect broader changes taking place in Bangladesh.
Although the book was published this year in March, the launching programme was held much later on 7 September.
Members of this generation were born during a political transition period and saw the revival of democracy after a series of military regimes, and they grew up in a society directly influenced by the global push toward neoliberalism. Their struggle represents the dilemmas of contemporary Bangladeshi society in the global setting.
Assisted by eight erudite professors and researchers in the field, the eight-chapter book anthropologically describes different groups of Bangladesh's 1990s generation. Based on fieldwork experience, each author investigates their subjects and examines how they struggle with their specific set of circumstances.
Since 1990, Bangladesh has undertaken various initiatives to ensure the rights of children. With approaches like reproductive care and child nutrition, the rate of infant and child mortality has subsequently declined, making 1990's kids the largest population cohort in the nation's history.
Supported by international aid and other stakeholders, universal education has been a massive priority since Bangladesh's independence. Education became the arena where the aims of the global society for Bangladesh and national globalisation initiatives met. And this Y generation was at the centre of this union, making them the first globally educated generation.
Therefore, the generation underwent many experimental phases. For example, after the 1990s, there were huge changes in every stage of education.
Education in Bangladesh has three main streams based on the language of education: the Bangla medium, the majority, the English medium, primarily for the economically privileged class, and the Madrasa, which is also divided into Qawmi and Aliya, based on Islamic education.
For higher studies, there are public universities, private universities and national universities. Again, the national university contains two different curricula for honours courses and degree courses.
Education by multiple providers and inconsistent policy has meant that not everyone has received a standardised education. The qualitative disparities and a lack of secondary education access have resulted in the majority of the 1990s generation only completing primary school.
Huge qualitative inequality exists among all streams of education. As a result, the more the access to education increased, the more the disparity was exposed.
However, the primary school enrollment rate of girls has dramatically increased and exceeded that of boys at the same time, thanks to the support and pressure of international aid. Formal education has created a 'youth period' that did not, at least for young women, exist for previous generations.
Minamide's studies show that more than half of the 1990's generation left their education by the end of the 10th grade. Only 10% to17% remained enrolled in tertiary education. So, in order to fully understand the current situation of the 1990's generation, we, therefore, must look beyond their educational experience.
There are huge socioeconomic and cultural disparities between the majority cohort, those who received only primary education, and the rest who have got their higher education at universities.
The effects of globalisation also impact these groups differently. With the advent of global connectivity, a part of the generation became liberal while another group grew fanatic, resulting in events like the 2016 attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, commented Minamide.
Although contemporary youth in Bangladesh are actively involved in cyberspace, the ways in which they use and communicate online vary significantly.
On the one hand, they are connected and consuming the global imaginary, while on the other hand, they are separated by the need to react and create their sociality.
Chapters 1 and 2 focus on working garment factories as the majority of wage labourers in this sector are members of the 1990s generation. For living, they moved to urban areas, and the author explores whether these youth, through their urban experiences, have urbanised their lifestyle or sense of belonging.
Employment allowed women to live independently or earn the primary family income, but the belief in an ideal marriage, in which the husband was the main provider, remained intact. According to Minamide the core circumstances for women haven't changed.
The following couple of chapters investigate the links between higher education and career aspirations among the generation, showing why these young cohorts consider government jobs as the only option that can give them a fair chance to move up both socially and economically.
Chapters 5 and 6 deal with the identity politics of urban youth. The final two chapters explore how online identities affected the generation. For the urban youth, the author notes, this online space became the means of debate, discussion, interaction and socialisation, which gave birth to many movements throughout the country.
Minamide ends the book by providing limitations of their study and leaving aspects to be discovered by future researchers.