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Proprietors without a spiritual pillar: The search for revitalization among Hmong in the Midwestern United States

TitleProprietors without a spiritual pillar: The search for revitalization among Hmong in the Midwestern United States
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsThao, PN
UniversityThao, Phillipe N : U Wisconsin - Milwaukee, US
Accession NumberDissertation Abstract: 2011-99030-597
Keywords*Countries, *Immigration, *Social Issues, Human, proprietors, spiritual pillar, revitalization, Hmong immigrants, Midwestern United States, Social Processes & Social Issues [2900], us
AbstractHmong immigrants to America have endured radical changes to their traditional way of life as it was practiced in the high country of Laos. Their struggles to adapt to a modern, urban wage-earning economy, when they were once subsistence slash and burn agriculturalists, has especially impacted the status and roles of first generation Hmong who arrived in this country with little or no education or relevant work skills. These Hmong, now the elderly members of Hmong communities, face a challenge to their relevance as respected, knowledgeable repositories of Hmong customary practices when nearly every aspect of Hmong life has been challenged by mainstream American cultural norms. Their children, who remembered little of their birth country, were encouraged to learn the lay of this new land in order that they might help their families put roots down, find good jobs and learn to negotiate the strange landscape of America. They grew up without the rich and textured participation in Hmong rituals, or the thick participation and observation of clan and kin-based social life. Now many in this generation struggle to make sense of Hmong cultural expectations in the setting of American life. Their struggles have created fractures and ruptures as well as new accommodations and revitalized customary practices. Their children, the first generation of American-born Hmong find themselves pushed and pulled even more by the norms and contingencies of two cultural systems. Their rejections and accommodations to new meanings concerning marriage, gender roles, patrilineal authority, and ritual practice have created strong divisions and disruptions within the family. And yet, this generation too remains strongly tied and connected to Hmong communal life as they seek to make sense of their new identities as Hmong and as Americans. This study offers a snapshot of Hmong American experience in the Midwestern United States. It is by no means a static picture, a resolved picture, even a particularly clear picture in terms of what features of this snapshot will become relevant to Hmong life in the future. It is nevertheless a testament to the unresolved and changing contingencies of the Hmong experience as related by Hmong who are living their lives under these new conditions. The voices in this account express the hopes, fears, despair and pride of a people in search of a new life and enduring identity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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