Gender Related Social Groups

Every Hmong identifies with the xeem, exogamous patrilineal clan, of his or her father. (The French colonial administration used xeem names as surnames.) A xeem is a large descent category rather than a social group. The number of xeem distinctions has varied over time, but at least 18 are recognized in the United States. Hmong who are related through males to a common historical ancestor or who practice the same rituals as part of their patrimony consider themselves ib caj ces, that is, of "one root and trunk." A caj ces could be technically called a lineage. Families headed by males of the same caj ces frequently form a durable alliance and refer to themselves simply as a pawg/pab neeg or "group." They constitute a localized sublineage. The most influential members tend to be males belonging to a tsev neeg, a family or "household," headed by a particularly capable leader. This male elder functions as the primary spokesperson for the entire group and mediates disputes. He is "one who guides" or "one who puts out fires." Non-Hmong Americans often refer to all of these kinship structures, from xeem to tsev neeg, as "clans," and mistakenly assume that the pawg neeg leader exerts authoritarian control over all members. Patrilineal relatives refer to themselves collectively as kwv tij, "younger/older brothers." When a woman marries, she retains her xeem identity while following the cultural norms and practices of her husband's family. Her children are of the father's xeem and belong to his kwv tij (see Dunnigan [1982] and Leepreecha [2001] for more on Hmong kinship).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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