Kinship Networks among Hmong-American Refugees

Kinship Networks among Hmong-American Refugees

Kinship Networks among Hmong-American Refugees

Kinship Networks among Hmong-American Refugees

Synopsis

Julie Keown-Bomar writes about Hmong-Americans and teaches courses in anthropology, race and ethnicity, and social problems. She has studied and lived in Inner Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan

Excerpt

The nascent profile of the twenty-first century is already marked by dramatic global events that have uprooted people from their homes, their countries, and their families. As long as war, plague, civil strife, environmental disaster, and ethnic and religious intolerance persist, so will the movement of refugees. Working with refugees is not a task that falls solely on the shoulders of officials at the United Nations or international relief workers. Indeed citizens, from the smallest rural communities in Wisconsin, to the busiest barrios of Los Angeles are encountering refugees as neighbors, co-workers, and increasingly, as community leaders. Since the September 11 , 2001 attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, many Americans have expressed increased anxiety toward immigrants and refugees, the United State’s role in world affairs, and how best to manage the consequences of intervention.

At this critical time, it is all the more important to listen to voices of people caught in the midst of uncontrollable and turbulent geopolitical events. How do displaced people cope with the challenges of relocation and adaptation? What kind of approaches help people help themselves? To answer these questions, the reader is presented with perspectives of Hmong-American refugees who have been coping with the repercussions of war for over twenty-five years.

In the 1960s, as part of the fight to control Indochina, the United States recruited Hmong from the mountainous regions of Laos. Eventually, Hmong became the primary anti-communist force in the region, although their contributions in this military campaign were hidden from the public until some thirty years later. Hmong in Laos suffered an enormous loss of life because of their alliance with the United States. After the withdrawal of the United States from the Vietnam War, Hmong were subjected to a campaign of genocide by communist Laos and Vietnam. Seeking sanctuary, tens of thousands . . .

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