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Diaspora and the Predicament of Origins: Interrogating Hmong Postcolonial History and Identity

Keywords: Hmong Studies , Asian Studies , Asian History

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Abstract:

This paper examines two basic issues that have been of major concern to the Hmong in the diaspora: (1). What is their historical and geographic origin; and (2) are the Hmong part of the Miao nationality in China, and should they accept being known under this generic name?There have been many theories about where the Hmong originally came from, ranging from Mesopotamia in the Middle East during Biblical times, the North Pole, Siberia, to Mongolia and China. This paper consolidates these many propositions with their supporting evidence, and draws its own surprising conclusion as to the real location of the original homeland of the Hmong. Depending on what they regard as their origin and which history they wish to be aligned with, the Hmong may have to reconsider being known as Miao or Meo, a name which most have vehemently rejected because of its derogatory connotation, especially among the more politically conscious Hmong now living in Western countries.

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