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Dreaming Across the Oceans: Globalization and Cultural Reinvention in the Hmong Diaspora

Keywords: Hmong Studies , Asian Studies

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Abstract:

The Hmong in Laos did not have any commercially produced media until after 1975 when 200,000 of them became refugees and were resettled in Western countries. Since then, they have produced many Hmong music cassettes, video documentaries and movies in America, Laos and Thailand for the eager consumption of the older members of the Hmong diaspora. These modern songs and videos often allude to aspects of Hmong life and culture in Asia which are missing in the new life in the West. This emphasis on "images' and texts from the past arises from a deep nostalgia for the homeland, the trauma of war and their relatively recent forced departure, guilt over those left behind,access to capital and modern media technology, and more importantly a world-wide market. It is argued that these moving video images and new singing voices constitute a form of cultural reinvention that connects the Hmong together as a global community, and brings them a new changing identity, a new level of transnational group consciousness both in the diaspora and in the homeland.

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