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Searching for the Hmong People’s Ethnic Homeland and Multiple Dimensions of Transnational Longing: From the Viewpoint of the Hmong in Laos

Author(s): Sangmi Lee

Journal: Hmong Studies Journal
ISSN 1091-1774

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Hmong Studies | Hmong Americans | Asian American Studies | Diaspora

This paper examines how Hmong people in the diaspora imagine each other and develop diverse and multidimensional types of longing in the absence of a “true” ethnic homeland. Even before the Hmong dispersed around the world after the Vietnam War, they never identified or agreed upon a “true” ethnic homeland. As a result, Hmong people have inevitably developed various other types of longing. The objects of these longings have been conceptually expanded to include a Hmong culture, a powerful leader, and a future time when Hmong will again be reunited. In this sense, I will examine the way Hmong people express their perspectives on their objects of longing in the absence of a “true” ethnic homeland by focusing on the viewpoints of some Hmong people residing in Laos. Based on my observations and analysis, I also propose to rethink the limitations of the dominant view about how Hmong imagine their ethnic homeland.Although current theoretical perspectives of transnationalism and “imagined community” have contributed to an understanding of the Hmong people’s imagination and their diasporic ethnic identity, those views cannot fully explain how Hmong people’s longing is not just associated with the lost homeland but can have multiple directions and meanings. These different types of longing expressed by the Hmong people suggest that diasporic communities can be maintainedwithout a territorial ethnic homeland.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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