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Cultural Identity In Post-Modern Society: Reflections on What is a Hmong?

Author(s): Gary Yia Lee

Journal: Hmong Studies Journal
ISSN 1091-1774

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 1996;
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Keywords: Hmong Studies | Hmong identity

There is no easy answer to the question of what constitutes the cultural identity of a person or human group. When is someone a Hmong and what are the characteristics of such a person? How is this personal identity moulded into a shared image at the group level? Some may say that there is such a thing as a true Hmong, but many others will argue that there is no such a person today when many Hmong have been assimilated into the local cultures and languages ofthe majority societies in which they now live in China, Southeast Asia or in the West.To grapple with this issue, I will take a dialectic approach which will attempt to arrive at what is considered true by eliminating differences and by synthesising common grounds or potentialsimilarities. I will begin by looking at different concepts from a collective perspective, followed by a similar examination at the personal level focusing on what I regard as being the majorcharacteristics of the Hmong as individuals and as a people. I will then draw my conclusion in the light of the Hmong's diaspora and the globalisation of their contacts today.

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