Change in Attitudes Beliefs and Practices Regarding Gender

Hmong gender relationships began to be profoundly altered 40 years ago as Laos became embroiled in a civil war that was fed by superpower politics. We briefly covered this and earlier periods for two reasons. We felt it important to delineate the origins of important changes that are today strikingly evident in the United States. We also wanted to counter the common presumption that the Hmong exchanged a static custom-bound, traditional existence in Laos for a dynamic life in the United States, requiring adjustments that were totally novel to refugee families. Space limitations prevent us from saying more about the ways in which Hmong culture was affected by global trends before the great migration to the West. Instead, we will simply refer to remarks made by Dr. Yang Dao, who earned a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne and served as a Hmong representative to the short-lived Laotian coalition government before the communist Pathet Lao victory in 1975. On a number of occasions he has told a story about Thai government officials being greatly surprised that Hmong refugees from Laos not only knew about rock and roll, but they also performed it! During an episode of the U.S. television drama The Trials of Rosie O'Neill, which aired on November 22, 1991, the leading character claimed that the Hmong did not know about incandescent light and other electrical appliances before coming to the United States.

We have eschewed certain English terms, such as tribal, traditional, animism, ancestor worship, etc., to avoid applying culture-bound and inappropriate concepts to the Hmong. Expressions like these are frequently used to describe Southeast Asian immigrant groups who were cultural minorities in their homelands. Unfortunately, they project American folk theories on cultural others. We thought a better approach would be to impose on the patience of readers by using Hmong labels for key concepts and providing brief explanations of these terms. Better ways of interpreting Hmong culture in English are still in development.6

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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