Breakout Session 1 — Thursday, October 24, 10:15–11:45 a.m.

Traveling Between Worlds: Integrating anthropological and Practitioner-phenomenological Perspective on Hmong Ritual Healing

Hmong shamanism is premised on the notion of transgressing the immanent, physical world and the spiritual realm with the help of shamanic spirits (dab neeb), allowing the shaman to confront health issues that cannot be adequately addressed by either realm alone. The presenters propose that, as in Hmong shamanism, transgressing these default distinctions between ‘different planes of understanding’ may allow us to arrive at new insights into the nature of shamanism. The ‘ontological turns’ for “decolonization of thought” and “to decolonize the canon” calls for radically new forms of scholarship that call into question assumptions about how we produce analyses and ethnographic accounts of the lives of our interlocutors. The presenters will consider what the study of Hmong shamanism—and ancestral rites and healing practices stand to gain from a combined etic and emic approach that seeks to treat anthropological theory as ethnotheory, and put the philosophical and ontological insights of Hmong ritual practice on the same analytic plane as the theoretical tools that anthropologists and religious studies scholars have employed to understand these phenomena.

  • Presenters: Yaj Ceeb Vaj and Jacob Hickman, Ph.D.

  • CDC 361

Hmong People in the U.S. are Dying from its Diseases

In this presentation, Dr. Bee will discuss what the older Hmong call “new diseases.” These illnesses are taking lives and disabling Hmong people across the US. The older Hmong back in the mountains of Asia did not know these “new diseases.” After living 50 years of a “better life” in a developed country like the US, many Hmong people are being diagnosed, suffering, and dying from these diseases – high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, high cholesterol, stroke, life-long paralysis, etc. Why? Dr. Bee will look into the complex causes of these “new diseases” and offer natural medical approaches to help prevent and lower the risks of developing them.

  • Presenter: Dr. Bee Lo, ND, L.Ac.

  • CDC 361

An Explanation of the Logic of the Hmong Alphabet Using Linguistics

Since it was invented, Hmong RPA (Romanized Popular Alphabet) has been questioned in several ways. Some have tried to impose Hmong Pahawh as the only legitimate Hmong alphabet “because it has been invented by a Hmong.” Some have tried to change some of RPA’s letters to make them simpler to learn, and some have tried to change these letters

using their own version of the alphabet. Father Yves Bertrais, one of the founders of RPA, stated that this alphabet was coherent. It seems like this cohesion is not understood anymore. This presentation will explain the linguistic rules underlying the choice of some rather “confusing” consonants like NTS, NTX, or even Q. The presenter will analyze them to enhance the logic of the alphabet and to strengthen the understanding of RPA, which should facilitate the learning of the Hmong double, triple and quadruple consonants.

  • Presenter: Cho Ly, Ph.D.

  • CDC 370

Hmong Digital Dance Pedagogies and Choreographies of Copy

On November 29, 2018, “This is not inspiration! THIS IS COPYING. Know your limits!” was published on YouTube by HmongChineseDance. The video went viral on social media, within Hmong dance circuits, touching upon controversial matters regarding plagiarism of choreography in Hmong dance. The presenter undertakes what HmongChineseDance implicitly asks of us – what are the limitations of copying in dance? What are the conditions in which copying is taking place and what is illuminated about Hmong dance through this? Situated in contemporary times and as a practice engaged by Hmong youth, the presenter argues that Hmong dance has an inextricable relationship to both copying and to popular digital culture, and therefore, an inextricable relationship to copying from popular media sources. She explores a particular method of knowledge transmission and pedagogical engagement that popular digital culture cultivates, one that is implicated and driven by capitalism. 

  • Presenter: Magnolia Yang Sao Yia

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

Hip Hop in the Hmong Diaspora

Hmong language Hip Hop empowers youth in a diaspora of displaced Hmong – it’s freedom of voice – is oftentimes limited to the dominant society’s influence in a land to which our ancestors have migrated due to persecution, war, and survival in the mountains. A sense of worldwide identity can be elevated through maintaining creative network through social media such as watching music videos of Hmong from other countries on YouTube. Content which calls for disenfranchised Hmong populations to collectively advocate for basic human rights, be rooted in tradition and awareness to a lack of access for opportunities. The Hmong narrative of surviving oppressive societies has a strong connection not just to the music but to the Hip Hop movement of something from nothing where disadvantaged communities can rise from poverty and persevere. In this session, the presenter shares reflections through storytelling, photography and video documentation of a 3-month trip in countries with Hmong populations which include Australia, Vietnam, China , and Thailand. A journey to find Hmong cultural roots while overcoming the loss of language and learning unique narratives of Hmong communities who are influenced by the mainstream societies they live in. The presenter’s research observes the global influence of Hip Hop on Hmong youth in multiple countries. Research reflects how displaced ethnicities have utilized Hip Hop as an effective way to revitalize language and have rebellious cultural pride. Participants will have a critical discussion of arts as a method of cultural preservation and there will be live performances of Hmong language Hip Hop.

  • Presenter: Tou Saiko Lee

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

Breakout Session 2 — Thursday, October 24, 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Navigating Ethics in Hmong Shaman Healing Practices

Little is known about how Hmong Shaman navigate ethics in their healing practices. In response, we are proposing a Hmong Shaman ethics panel to consider what practitioners define as ethics and to identify ethical issues in their spiritual healing practices. The panel will open with brief introductions of each panelist including a brief outline of each Hmong Shaman’s approach to their healing practices. Next, case examples will be shared and each panelist will have the opportunity to consider the case example in the context of how each practitioner defines ethics in their Hmong Shaman healing practice. An audience discussion will follow.

  • Panel discussion co-moderators: Bibiana Koh, Ph.D. and Pa Der Vang, Ph.D.

  • Panelists: David Yang, Ger Vang and Nelly Yang Sao Yia

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

Gender Theory and Cultural Considerations in Understanding Hmong Homicide-Suicide

Homicide-suicide is when a perpetrator kills an individual(s) and then commits suicide shortly thereafter. In the United States, homicide-suicide accounts for approximately 1000-1500 deaths per year primarily in the context of spousal relationships. The literature shows homicide-suicides occur due to threatened loss or in retaliation, bringing emotional strain to surviving individuals and their communities. This presentation relates to the conference theme by examining how Hmong have progressed to address gendered-based violence, such as homicide-suicides.  Homicide-suicides within the Hmong community are increasing every year. Due to the war and trauma-related stories of Hmong refugees, as well as the strongly patriarchal culture of Hmong, extant research on homicide-suicide cannot be generalized to Hmong. This presentation will focus on the male sexual proprietariness theory to explain this form of gender-based violence and other social injustice stemming from gendered norms and the historical trauma/loss. Cultural roles held within Hmong families will also be explored. 

  • Presenter: Pa Thor

  • CDC 370

White supremacy, White Researchers, and Critical Hmong Studies

The presenter draws upon critical race theory (CRT) in education and critical whiteness studies (CWS) to reflect on the complexity of being a white researcher in the field of critical Hmong studies, particularly in regards to the power dynamics of epistemology and language in research as well as inequities around who benefits from research projects. This reflection will highlight the limits of white researcher contributions to critical Hmong studies and consider alternative ways of being that may prove more useful to the goals of critical race studies in education. In CRT, white supremacy refers instead to “a regime of assumptions and practices that constantly privilege the interests of white people but are so deeply rooted that they appear normal to most people in the culture.” (Gillborn, 2010) This reflection extends Gillborn’s work of de-naturalizing and exposing the workings of white supremacy and racism to the power relations between white researchers and critical Hmong studies. The presenter draws upon her own experiences as a white researcher in critical Hmong studies to highlight the limits of good intentions and the necessity of decentering white epistemologies from research processes that attempt to challenge racial inequalities.

  • Presenter: Christin DePouw, Ph.D.

  • CDC 361

Centering Hmong Ways of Knowing: Toward a Hmong Research Methodology

Most studies about Hmong American youth are written by non-Hmong scholars (Moua & Vang, 2015). Oftentimes, these studies, in addition to those conducted by Hmong-identified scholars, use conventional research paradigms and methodologies which are incongruent with the cultural, linguistic, political, and historical identities of Hmong American youth. The result are narratives of Hmong American youth, who are broken and disengaged, referred to as damaged-centered research (Tuck, 2009). Indigenous research methodologies are proposed, in which indigenous knowledge informs the research process, interrogating dominant, Western methodologies, including its assumptions, questions, and interpretations while centering the knowledge and worldviews of indigenous, colonized, and historically marginalized peoples. An  indigenous methodology allows researchers to push against the boundaries of the realm of possible sources of knowledge, making space for oral traditions and cosmology. This presenter examines how a Hmong shaman’s protocol, used when seeking answers for spiritual healing, informed a research process for a study with Hmong American women. In doing so, her work was grounded in relationships and community; the research methodology centered Hmong values and behaviors, and the findings pointed away from damage-centered research and toward the complexities of Hmong American youth and their lived experiences. 

  • Presenter: Kao Nou L. Moua, MSW

  • CDC 361

Breakout Session 3 — Thursday, October 24, 3–4:30 p.m.

A Study of a New Part of Speech: The Rhythmers

The parts of speech as described by Western Linguistics covers all the Western words, but as for Hmong, some parts of speech have been wrongly described if not described at all. The panelists aim to present a new part of speech that Ly (2004) called rhythmers. None of the authors who described the Hmong language in the literature have studied or even just mentioned this new category of words. For example, in a sentence like: ”tsis yog kuv li as,” “as” is a rhythmer and has been completely ignored by all the authors who studied Hmong so far because they seem to be intrinsically meaningless words. But Ly stated that they do have a meaning. For this presentation, the authors have studied the meaning of some rhythmers. First, they have studied some sentences using a rhythmer taken from the data gathered by Ly and have compared them with the same sentences using other rhythmers. Then, they have put the rhythmers studied in other sentences to verify if they always have the same meaning or if their meaning does change. The results show that even when they do not have an intrinsic meaning, they do help change the meaning of the sentence. In other words, they contribute to the meaning of the sentence. 

  • Panel Discussion: Cho Ly, Ph.D., Choua Yang, and Yunang Thao

  • CDC 370

Exploring the Lived Experiences of Hmong Individuals with Disabilities and Their Family Members

Literature suggests that parents raising a child with a disability experience more stress than parents who raise a child without a disability. In addition, individuals with disabilities have experienced unsatisfactory support with regard to educational services, mistreatment by individuals not living with a disability), barriers to healthcare services, and have experienced feeling  unwelcome in community spaces, agencies, and programs. There is very little research focused specifically on the lived experiences of Hmong individuals living with a disability. The presenters will share preliminary results from a study exploring the barriers and stigma Hmong individuals with disabilities and their family members experience both within the Hmong community and the wider community, including access to services. The unique intersectionality of ethnicity and ability provides a better understanding of how a disability affects Hmong individuals, their families, and their daily lives.

  • Presenters: Victoria Vu and Kao Nou L. Moua, MSW

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

The Influence of School Capital on Hmong Children's Self-Perception of Academic Competence

Hmong Americans have made tremendous progress after just four decades in America, and one of their success stories is the recent creation of Hmong-focused charter schools. Despite the growth of Hmong-focused charter schools, no study, to date, has been initiated to

investigate how Hmong American students are performing in these schools. Therefore, the purpose of the study presented is to examine Hmong American students’ academic competence based on Coleman’s social capital theory, which emphasizes the importance of both the interior and exterior social capital. Students’ academic competence was used as the outcome measure instead of students’ academic performance. Five hundred thirty-two students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades participated in the study. Results show that school social capital was significantly associated with students’ perceived academic competence. Students’ perceived academic competence was not related to their nuclear family social capital and their extended family social capital. Overall, the results illustrate the important role Hmong-focused charter schools have on Hmong students’ perceived academic competence. Some implications for future research and practices will be discussed during the presentation.

  • Presenter: Zha Blong Xiong, Ph.D.

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

The Changing Hmong Village in Thailand: Migrations for Work and Education 

During the last few decades the nation-states of Southeast Asia are increasingly contributing workers to the world’s migration workforce. The economic demands of the globalized markets have also penetrated into the villages of ethnic minorities in the highlands. The presenter’s study examines the impact of Hmong migrations from their mountain villages for work and education in lowland Thailand and abroad. It argues that the migrations are impacting the socio-demographic nature of the Hmong village population. The Hmong village today is composed primarily of the elderly and the very young with the working and school-age populations being starkly absent, except during special holidays. Work and educational migrations, while bringing some economic improvements to the villages, also are introducing new socio-cultural stressors such as the separation of parents from small children, and husbands from wives. The elderly also are being forced to assume child-care responsibilities for grandkids as their working-age children migrated abroad for jobs.

  • Presenter: Mai Na M. Lee, Ph.D.

  • CDC 361

The Hmong and the Monarch in Thailand

To date few studies have examined the relationship between the Hmong and the institution of monarchy in Thailand. The presenter investigates the creation of their interdependent relationship. Pakia, a village in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand is a Hmong community that adopted a Border Patrol Police School in 1970 receiving great attention from the former king (Bhumibol Adulyadej), Her Royal Highness Princess Srisangwan and later Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn. The presenter proposes that while certain conflicts and incidents between local officials and Hmong villagers in the Cold War era offered an opportunity for the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT), these clashes also provided an opportunity for the monarchy to regain his popularity with the Hmong population of Thailand. Villagers’ experiences show that after the highly publicized trips of the King and his daughter’s regular visits into the school, they could live more independently from the local officials’ pressures. Meanwhile, they also received greater support and benefits from the royal institution and from the public in comparison with other Thai villages. She argues that it is through this channel that the Hmong in Thailand gradually learned of this source of charismatic power and therefore began to associate themselves with the royal family. Their interdependent relationship and is an exception that lies outside of the state’s norms of practice.

  • Presenter: Urai Yangcheepsutjarit

  • CDC 361

Breakout Session 4 — Friday, October 25, 9–10:30 a.m.

Staring Down the Tiger: Stories of Hmong Women's Leadership

The presentation will discuss the forthcoming book Staring Down the Tiger: Stories of Hmong Women. The edited volume includes stories about Hmong women in various leadership experiences. The book will be published in March 2020 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. The book sheds light on silent narratives surrounding war, loss, breaking cultural barriers, intergenerational conflict, and relationships. The presenter will share short snippets from three stories from the book and lead the audience in a critical analysis of each piece. Key questions will be provided to guide the discussion. The goal of the presentation is to facilitate deep analysis of narratives written by Hmong women centering on the unique experiences of Hmong women around topics such as the role of women, identity as a Hmong woman, meanings of cultural practices, and an analysis of gender.

  • Presenter: Pa Der Vang, Ph.D.

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

Access and Representation: Raising the Immigrant Voice in Children’s Literature Abstract

Given the sociopolitical trend of who and what gets published, this presentation focuses on a critical multicultural analysis of children’s literature by underrepresented and marginalized groups, particularly literature by Hmong authors for Hmong students. Prior to the 1960s, most of the literature published for children depicted white, middle-class characters in mainstream socio-economic spheres. There is a dearth of literature representing various underrepresented ethnic and cultural groups. Several studies explore the importance of children being able to see themselves in the literature they read (mirrors) and also to be able to experience the life of others (windows). A more recent addition to the “windows and doors” perspective is the “door” where readers are inspired to action based on what they read. While it is essential to provide young readers with multiple opportunities to see themselves in what they read and to experience others’ experiences, it is also imperative that educators teach young readers to approach what they read through a critical lens. The presenter will discuss the book, The Hmong Journey Hmoob Txoj Kev Taug which traces her family’s journey from Laos/Thailand to the United States. 

  • Presenter: Ger Thao

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

Coping with Loneliness Among Hmong Older Adults

The prevalence of loneliness is higher among immigrant older adults when compared to native-born older adults. Coping with loneliness among immigrant older adults remain understudied. The presenter examines how Hmong older adults cope with loneliness. The data is drawn from a larger study aimed at understanding the loneliness experiences of community-dwelling Hmong older adults. Individual interviews were conducted in the Hmong language with 17 Hmong age 65 and older residing in Sacramento and Fresno, California. Five coping mechanisms emerged from the data: (a) religious and spiritual beliefs; (b) social support; (c) wandering; (d) activity engagement; and (e) avoidance and control. Hmong older adults employed a combination of coping mechanisms to combat loneliness based on their competency, access to social relationships, marital status, and financial resources. Coping mechanisms utilized by Hmong older adults in this study highlighted the resilience of this aging population and the lack of culturally-relevant programs to prevent and address their persistent loneliness and emotional distress. Implications for research, practice, and policy suggests the need for greater culturally- and linguistically-competent services informed by Hmong older adults.

  • Presenter: Cindy Vang, Ph.D.

  • CDC 370

Survivors: Second-wave Hmong Refugee Parents’ Identities

About 15,000 Hmong refugees from Wat Tham Krabot (WTKB), Thailand resettled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2009. Significantly, they do not want nationality suffixes, such as American or Thai, attached to their “Hmong” identity. Rather, these Second-wave refugee parents identify themselves as “Hmong survivors.” Prior to coming to the U.S., these Hmong refugees had limited experiences with formal education, including exposure to western cultures, lifestyles, and languages (English). After living in the U.S. for fifteen years, how do these Hmong refugee parents see themselves within the larger context of the United States? How do they construe their identity in an era where identity and belonging are so critical to building a supportive and thriving community? How does the survivor identity help them stay resilient while living in poverty? As a Hmong refugee, the presenter is in a position to get authentic answers to these questions. This presentation will discuss parents’ perceptions of who they are based on their socio-historical experiences as refugees. Their refugee narratives inevitably play a role in how they identify themselves. Their experiences of living at WTKB, their recent resettlement in the U.S., and group comparisons also influence how they perceive themselves.

  • Presenter: Mao Lee

  • CDC 370

From Collective to Modernity: Hmong and Urban Tourism in Luang Prabang City, Lao PDR

Over the last four decades, debates surrounding the Hmong social phenomena in Laos have centered on shifting cultivation, gender, courtship and marriage, and economics that took place in the countryside. In recent years, Hmong society in Laos has shifted in response to the state’s development programs. Many Hmong both individuals, families, and households have relocated to  Luang Prabang City not only for education and economic opportunities but also to form new settlements. Many Hmong who live in the city have changed their vocations from shifting cultivation into urban tourism; a new Hmong social phenomenon that has not yet been studied by any scholar. The presenter discusses factors related to increasing Hmong participation in urban tourism in Luang Prabang City and the impacts on the lives of Hmong in Luang Prabang City; challenging notions that have essentialized Hmong in Laos as traditional agrarian village dwellers. Working in urban tourism allows Hmong more comfortable lives in the city in addition to opportunities to seek modernity to upgrade their social status. This allows Hmong to escape from Hmong social male dominance, traditional hard lives with their parents, and for Hmong women to negotiate power relations with Hmong men by showing that Hmong women also have the ability to make money from tourism to support their families. In other words, both men and women have the ability to earn money from tourism, but they do this in different ways.

  • Presenter: Vong Juu Moua

  • CDC 361

Loyal Soldiers, Fearsome Terrorists: The Hmong as a Martial Race in Southeast Asia and the United States

As a stateless people, Hmong have a long history of flight in response to state persecution. Simultaneously, this history is accompanied by a history of rebellion and other forms of  resistance, culminating in Hmong participation in the Secret War in Laos (1960-1975). Building on this history, this presentation will deploy the theory of martial races, an ideological construction used to organize colonial hegemony, as a lens through which first the French and later the United States understood Hmong in the volatile context of 20th century Laos and beyond. Beginning with anti-colonial rebellions, Hmong resistance to exploitative corvee labor and tax burdens was interpreted by the French as evidence of the martial qualities of the Hmong. Subsequently, the Japanese occupation of Indochina set the stage for a combined French-Hmong resistance, a development that cemented their ‘martial’ status and informed the United States’ decision to recruit the Hmong to fight in the Secret War. In the aftermath of the Secret War, the movement of more than 100,000 Hmong refugees to the United States brought martial race theory to American soil, evidenced by both the language included in legislation designed to honor Hmong veterans and by the designation ofHmong people as a whole as terrorists under the Patriot and Real ID acts. Taken as a whole, the classification of Hmong as a martial race illustrates the ways that colonial legacies continue to influence the sociopolitical reality facing Hmong Americans today, both in the United States and abroad.

  • Presenter: Alexander Hopp

  • CDC 361

Stress Factors among Hmong Women in America

Research was conducted to look at the relationships between several demographic variables (such as financial income, number of household, roles, etc.) and stress among Hmong women. This research is important because Hmong women are expected to hold numerous gender prescribed roles and culturally specific roles. Hmong women live bicultural lives in which the two cultures place different meanings on the various roles that they hold, resulting in various levels of stress as reported by extant research. This clash in cultural values causes cognitive dissonance and role ambiguity for Hmong women who must then alternate from cultural expectations as well as societal expectations and are unable to discuss stressors related to life outside of the home with members of their own family or community. Instead, they must deal with it internally in order to fulfill the role of a “good nyab” (translated: good daughter-in-law) (Khang, 2010). The high levels of stress has lasting impact on the well being of Hmong women resulting in higher rates of mental illness, career and education, which then has an impact on the likelihood of poverty. This workshop goes over research findings. In small groups, participants will discuss how to identify stress among themselves and the Hmong women in their lives and how to decrease those stress factors.

  • Workshop facilitators: Npaus Baim Her and Gao Lee

  • CDC 362

Breakout Session 5 — Friday, October 25, 1:15–2:45 p.m.

An invitation to Bear Witness to Motherhood and Historical Trauma

Inspired by their own positionalities around motherhood, this round table discussion convenes Hmong studies scholars from the field of History, English, Ethnic Studies, and Anthropology to explore the traces of Hmong historical trauma and motherhood. Centering motherhood, mothering, and mothers on the margins, these scholars are interested in critically examining the intersectionality of trauma and motherhood and the bittersweet possibilities of mothering through and with loss. Together they reflect personally and theoretically within their work on motherhood and trauma in Hmong Studies. Dr. Mai Na Lee historically centers the embodiment of trauma for Hmong mothers and wives during the war and the inheritance of trauma in the diaspora. Dr. Ma Vang situates the relationship-making of motherhood within critical race, feminist, and refugee ideas about care and the state. Dr. Aline Lo critically examines the representation of motherhood in Hmong American poetry, considering the relationship of Hmong motherhood to war and loss. Dr. Mai See Thao examines how her mother’s memories of motherhood during the war unmoor the biopolitical normalization of motherhood. As a round table discussion, the panelists are excited to engage the topic of motherhood and trauma with audience members.

  • Roundtable facilitator: Mai Neng Moua

  • Panelists: Mai Na Lee, Ph.D., Ma Vang Ph.D., Aline Lo, Ph.D., Mai See Thao, Ph.D.

  • Library 128

The interactive evolution of Ethnic Memory, Local Knowledge, and Globalization

Since Hmong people migrated to the United States in the 1970s, they have had two very important festivals – Hmong New Year and the Hmong Soccer Tournament celebrated on Independence Day. As an important symbol of the national character of “Hmong American”, these two festivals have become important parts of Hmong culture and social life in the United States. In the process of interaction between tradition and modernity, they creatively transformed and merged the two festivals that respects both tradition and American experience. In the context of globalization, Hmong New Year evolved from a traditional family/clan-based cohesive regional festival to an outward-oriented public celebration led by community leaders and involving the entire community, while Independence Day embodies a “third culture” practice that transcends race, ethnic, nation, country and local culture. The presenter draws on the methods of anthropology, based on the fieldwork of the Hmong community in Minnesota and Wisconsin from 2018, trying to analyze the social and historical context of Hmong New Year and Independence Day from a holistic perspective. The presenter will describe the ritual process of the two festivals and explore how the Hmong people of different generations understand their cultural traditions, how to use American experience as local knowledge, and the process of confirming their identity.

  • Presenter: lan Yongshi 

  • CDC 370

A Study on Contemporary Transnational Miao/Hmong’s Identity problem-Taking the Compilation of Yang’s Genealogy of Longshujuao Village in Yunnan Province as an Example

Yang’s Genealogy of Longshujiao Village is the first written genealogy of this white Miao/Hmong family group. It is very important for this Miao/Hmong family group and the transnational Miao/Hmong groups as a whole. This genealogy gives a comprehensive presentation of Yang family’s paternal line, historical origin, transnational migration, and traditional culture. From data collection to the final composition, the whole compiling process of this genealogy shows that no matter where, no matter what kind of social environment changes, this white Miao/Hmong group who live in different countries still adheres to their traditional cultural identity, ethnic identity, and the emotional recognition of its cultural motherland - China. The compilation process of the Yang’s genealogy is the mutual identity process of the transnational Miao/Hmong groups. This kind of recognition has even gone beyond the strict boundaries of modern nation-states, and formed a cultural community with Miao/Hmong in China as the core.

  • Presenter: Huang Xiurong, Ph.D.

  • CDC 370

A Clan of Our Own: Coming Out Experiences of Gay Hmong Men

Growing up as a gay Hmong, Brian Xiong couldn’t find any gay books written about gay Hmong coming out experiences, or just gay Hmong representation in general. He remembers checking out gay resource books from Minneapolis Public Library, City Pages newspaper, or gay lifestyle stories online during his high school years, but none of them represented him, his experience as a gay Hmong person, and the complexities of being a diverse ethnic minority in a minority population. Most of the publications, videos, books, and magazines were about gay White individuals and their lifestyles. If any such stories about LGTBQ Asian-American experiences were published, they were often Chinese, Filipino and other Asian-American ethnicities. A Clan of Our Own is labor of the author’s passion to discover the coming out experiences of gay Hmong men in the Hmong American community, in hopes that it will provide insightful experiences and stories to help Hmong parents better understand their gay sons or a gay member of their clan. The collection of stories in A Clan of Our Own shed greater light on the experiences of gay Hmong men, their coming out experiences, and the struggles they face daily in their lives, with the hope that both mainstream and Hmong communities are better equipped to assist and understand the strengths and needs of this minority group within a minority.

  • Presenter: Brian Xiong, Ed.D. 

  • CDC 361

Hmong Women’s Rights and the Communist Party of Thailand

Between 1967 and 1969, the majority of Hmong communities located in the eastern part of northern Thailand joined the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and resided in mountainous strongholds located near the border with Laos in Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Phetchabun, and Phitsanulok Provinces. They stayed there until the early 1980s, when the CPT fell apart for a number of reasons, some of which were beyond their own control. Important transformations in gender relations occurred amongst the Hmong as a result of them joining the CPT. The presenter outlines some of the most important changes that occurred, as reported by Hmong women, and explain how these changes were incorporated into Hmong practices during the CPT period. The legacy of the CPT can still be found in various Hmong practices in northern Thailand today. However, in other aspects there has been a reversing to pre-CPT beliefs, including strongly patriarchal practices that many Hmong women and some Hmong men currently lament. For example, Hmong polygamy in northern Thailand is now common, even though it was rare during the CPT period. These changes have resulted in some women feeling nostalgic about the rights that women had during the time of the CPT and have since seemingly lost, even if some progress has been made in convincing clan leaders to allow divorced women to return to their clans of birth.

  • Presenter: Ian G. Baird, Ph.D.

  • CDC 362

Notes on Becoming Chao Fa

Let’s imagine ourselves before the secret. What happened before the secret? Tracing our genealogy of Hmong Chao Fa during the French occupation of Indochina will inform our historical context and ourselves differently than the dominant narrative of us emerging during the regime of General Vang Pao (VP). The U.S. deployed the narrative of Hmongs as U.S. allies, leading Hmongs to believe themselves to be a part of the U.S. What we choose not to believe, is that the US strategically cast us as allies, veterans, enemies, and refugees simultaneously. Hence, a strategy of global power, and U.S. empire. The presenter argues for a different historical account. To be critical, we must make a conscious decision; consciousness raising from a feminist standpoint, to examine the multiplicity of our histories from before the Secret War in Laos by assembling oral histories of Chao Fa. Being Hmong must mean more than identity politics. Hmong must mean more than being a veteran, refugee, an ally of global powers. Being Hmong means we must be accountable to those who came before us; our ancestors. We must center our connection to our ancestors, connection to Chao Fa, and our experiences in a discourse about Hmong. It is time to decenter the secret, so that we can imagine ourselves, from a Hmong paradigm.

  • Presenter: Karen Vang

  • CDC 362

Breakout Session 6 — Friday, October 25, 3–4:30 p.m.

Street Stops and Mountain Tops (SSMT) Arts and Education Program Connecting Youth and Teaching Artists Worldwide

Using art as a medium, Street Stops and Mountain Tops (SSMT) strives to create meaningful relationships between local Hmong teaching artists and global Hmong youth through art forms such as dance, music, and digital storytelling. In this session, MN-based teaching artists, educators, and activists will engage participants in a panel discussion on the successes and challenges of organizing a transnational arts-based project. The panelists will share stories at the intersections of arts, culture, youth development, and why these are crucial ingredients to strengthening global connections and empowering Hmong youth worldwide.The impact of SSMT was reciprocal. As the Hmong Thai students grew in their understanding of different art forms and Hmong identity, the Hmong artists and organizers from the US also grew in their discovery of identity and in their skills as organizers. Participants will leave with a holistic view of art as a tool for building transnational bridges, as well as SSMT’s impact and future endeavors.

  • Panelists: Tou Saiko Lee, Kabo Yang, Mouakong Vang, and Kevin Yang

  • Library 128

Identity Influence: A Case Study of Hmong in the United States

Hmong identity is not only defined by race, gender, religion, geo- political boundaries or ethnicity but by philosophies and ideologies rich in morals, ethics and Hmong culture. The cultures, languages and heritages of Hmong are multiple, diverse, and dynamic -- for some, Hmong identity is being able to call America home. The presenter addresses all the ways America influences the Hmong identity and how they have adapted. Have their identities been undermined by the western cultural identity? Are Hmong able to transform their culture and identity to make significant contributions in America? Are they making sense of the Western encounter? Do these identities shape the perception of self and the interaction between the people and their environment? Has the coming together of people of diverse persuasions led to greater appreciation of peoples? What are Hmong views regarding converging cultures? The presenter looks at various influences of identity and concludes  with an adoption of appropriate strategies and wats Hmong can reap the full benefits of this phenomenon.

  • Presenter: Tem Angela Alabi, Ph.D.

  • CDC 370

The Influence of Hmong Americans’ Acculturation and Cultural Identity on Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Mental Health Care and Services in Comparison to Traditional Health Beliefs and Practices

Hmong have endured a long history of war-related trauma, and have settled in different parts of the world. As a consequence, many Hmong may have experienced various levels of psychological symptoms and have limited knowledge and resources for treatment and interventions. Issues of acculturation, cultural identity, traditional beliefs and practices, seeking traditional medical interventions, and religious beliefs may influence help-seeking behaviors from professional psychological services. Data were gathered from two Hmong American churches located in southeast Michigan. The results showed that seeking professional services was correlated with both acculturation and traditional beliefs and practices.The implications of these findings will be discussed.

  • Presenter: Ethan Teng Xiong

  • CDC 370

The Disappearing Hmong Language, a Hmong Study in Colorado  

This qualitative study seeks to examine ways in which Hmong youth and their families experience and interpret the English language and the way it affects their use of the Hmong language. It also seeks to understand how the use of English affects the identity of Hmong youth and relationships between Hmong students and their families. The data reveals that the dominance of English contributes to heritage language and cultural shift for Hmong youth and the effects of language loss are damaging. The results demonstrate the marginalization of the Hmong in the US and provides suggestions to improve the educational system.

  • Presenter: Kha Yang Xiong, Ed.D.

  • CDC 362

The National Fetish: The Miao, Cultural Preservation, and Commodity Fetishism

Numerous studies have focused on cultural preservation and whether it validates cultural expression as authentic or is a performance for commodification that is in-authentic. The presenter seeks to move beyond this binary distinction and focuses on the intersections of further injustices in the making of the nation-state by reducing individuals to a certain notion of identity. Cultural preservation is better conceptualized as a performance of being and belonging. The presenter offers a further critique of multiculturalism as the site for the celebration of differences as a type of recognition. 

  • Presenter: Ong Thao

  • CDC 361

Breakout Session 7 — Saturday, October 26, 9–10:30 a.m.

Reimagining Diaspora in Global Hmong Studies: Transnational Engagements to Better Understand Hmong Transnationalism

An unfortunate and counterproductive division between Hmong studies outside of China and the vibrant field of Hmong/Miao studies inside of China has led to de facto parallel universes of Hmong studies that arguably stifles scholarly understandings of the global Hmong community. With the increasing importance of “cross-border ethnic studies” in Chinese anthropology and ethnology, this is a productive time to foster increased engagements. This panel seeks to develop new directions in Hmong studies by 1) providing new insights into relatively unexplored branches of the global Hmong diaspora, including new insights in cross-border Hmong research within Asia, and 2) by facilitating a critical discussion about how to create more productive modes of engagement across different spheres of Hmong studies. 

  • Panel moderator: Jacob Hickman, Ph.D.

  • Panelists: Zheng Yu, Ph.D., Mala Saevang, Gu Wenfeng, and Wang Yueping, Ph.D.

  • Rauenhorst Ballroom

The Ghost of Fadiman: Hmong Studies and the Legacy of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Drawing upon the conference themes of “change, continuity, and progress,” this roundtable reflects on the various ways Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures has haunted Hmong Studies since its publication over twenty years ago. Together, panelists from the fields of anthropology, English, ethnic studies, gender and women’s studies, queer studies, and history, ask how do we confront the ghost of Fadiman as we advance the field of Hmong Studies? As one of the most widely read and assigned texts about Hmong, how has Fadiman’s portrayal of Hmong people and Hmong culture as monolithic, ahistorical, and primitive been a form of epistemological violence? How does this violence manifest in particular fields? Ultimately, our goal is to have a collective conversation about how Hmong scholars can work to contest legacies like Fadiman’s.

  • Roundtable facilitator: Mai Na Lee, Ph.D.
  • Roundtable presenters: Ma Vang, Ph.D., Aline Lo, Ph.D., Chong Moua, Mai See Thao, Ph.D., Kong Pha, Ph.D.
  • CDC 361

Biomonitoring study leads to #LoveYourSkin campaign addressing harmful skin lightening practices

Toxic chemicals exist in our consumer products. Some “beauty” products have more toxic chemicals than other consumer products and are predominantly used by communities of color. Health equity begins with understanding the root cause of why communities of color are often unknowingly exposed to harmful and toxic chemicals in the process of trying to lighten their skin. Biomonitoring study MN FEET found elevated levels of mercury in pregnant women associated with the use of skin lightening products. We will tell the story of how multi-agency, community, and academic efforts have coalesced to discuss the health and social impacts within communities of color, focusing on the educational efforts within the Hmong community.

  • Panel discussion facilitator: Michelle Gin, MPH
  • Panelists: Susi Keefe, Ph.D., Jameson Lie, BA, Jessica Nelson, Ph.D., MPH, Michael Xiong, BA
  • CDC 370