Hutchison and ‘Constructing a New Hmong Narrative’
Sociology Prof. Ray Hutchison has additional details to share regarding the panel session he is organizing for the Spring 2015 Hmong Conference at UW-Madison in April. An abstract: In Hmong Refugee’s Death Fugue, author Sheng-mei Ma presents an analogy of the Hmong story-cloth tradition with the usual Hmong narrative of the loss of homeland and subsequent life as refugees in the United States as a means of explaining the Hmong experience to outside groups, and to organizing the community from the inside. Within this narrative, Hmong participation in the Second Indo China War and later social organization among groups associated with the General Vang Pao military leadership became the dominant feature of Hmong social and political life in the United States. Although contested by some, particularly among the younger generation, this narrative continued to dominate until recent years. But now, with the passing of General Vang Pao and the emergence of a new cohort of Hmong leaders, it is appropriate to ask what the New Hmong Narrative will be: How will we deal with the earlier history of Hmong involvement in the American war? How do we explain the almost singular focus on these issues among Hmong leadership from the time of arrival in the United States? Can a new generation of Hmong leadership be incorporated within this older structure, or is a new set of institutions required? Participants in the discussion include Vincent Her (UW-La Crosse), Mai Na Lee (University of Minnesota), Pao Lor (UW-Green Bay), and Chong Moua (UW-Madison). Hutchison, director of the Hmong Studies Center at UW-Green Bay, will serve as moderator for the discussion.