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Hmong and Lao Refugee Women: Reflections of a Hmong-American Woman Anthropologist

Author(s): Dia Cha

Journal: Hmong Studies Journal
ISSN 1091-1774

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Hmong Studies | Hmong refugees | Asian Studies

In 1992, Ms. Dia Cha – then a graduate student in anthropology at Northern Arizona University – traveled to Chieng Kham Refugee and Napho Repatriation Camps in Thailand, and the village of Ban KM 52, inVientiane Province, Laos, to research issues concerning the repatriation to Laos of Lao Lum and Hmong women refugees. This article, originally written upon the return from these travels and in partial fulfillment of the requirements for her Master of Arts degree in Applied Anthropology, considers the findings made and the insights achieved on this journey of discovery. In particular, the work discusses changes and continuity in the lives of Lao Lum and Hmong refugee women in the camps. Also addressed in considerable detail is the impact of the author’s status as an educated Hmong-American woman and former refugee on her interactions with female and male informants residing in the two refugee camps. Ms. Cha, who spent much of her early life in such refugee camps as are herein described, has, in the intervening period, become Dr. Dia Cha, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies at St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA. The research project she describes was funded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women and executed by the American Friends Service Committee (The Quaker Services). Ms. Jacquelyn Chagnon joined Ms. Cha during the second phrase ofthe research, in Napho Repatriation Center, and later in Laos; however, the following article, produced originally in 1992, was written solely by Ms. Cha.

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