This talk by Ma Vang, Assistant Professor and Program Chair of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Merced, examines the critical narratives of refugee migration and community formation from a Hmong epistemological perspective. By analyzing Hmong women’s narratives against U.S. redacted archival records that erase Hmong and Laos history during the U.S. “secret war,” the talk explores the politics of knowledge formation which has generated a historiography about the Hmong refugee as a masculinized refugee soldier and a distinct U.S. ally. Taking a feminist refugee approach, the talk makes two key points. First, it asserts that Hmong refugee history illuminates the group’s fugitivity to and within Southeast Asia during Cold War postcolonial Laos. Second, the talk argues that Hmong women’s narratives rechronicles the history of war through the patterns of displacement and migration rather than military operations, which does not succumb to either of the veteran or “good” refugee representations. Hmong women’s narratives’ rechronicling of history foregrounds refugees as knowing subjects whose social production can help us understand the processes of war and militarism, gender and migration, and knowledge formation.
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This talk is part of the Ronald and Janette Gatty series.