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The Hmong of Australia

The Hmong of Australia: Culture and Diaspora

Nicholas Tapp
Gary Yia Lee
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    The Hmong of Australia
    Book Description:

    The Hmong are among Australia's newest immigrant populations. They came as refugees from Laos after the communist revolution of 1975 ended their life there as highland shifting cultivators. The Hmong originate from southern China where many still remain, and others live in Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. Hmong refugees are now also settled in the USA, Canada, France, Germany and French Guyana. Already the beauty and richness of traditional Hmong culture, in particular their shamanism and embroidered costume, has attracted the attention of the Australian public, but little is known about these people, their background or the struggles they have faced to adjust to a new life in Australia.This interdisciplinary collection of articles deals with their music and textiles, gender and language, their social adaptation and their global diaspora. The book aims to bring knowledge of the Hmong to a wider public and contribute to the understanding of these people.

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-95-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Nicholas Tapp

    In 2002 Gary Lee and I were fortunate enough to be given the chance, thanks to Francesca Merlan and other members of the Steering Committee, to organise a panel, ‘Changing Cultural Contexts: Representations of the Hmong’, at the Annual Meeting of the Australian Anthropological Society held at The Australian National University, Canberra (3–5 October). We believe this was the first time researchers on the Hmong in Australia had been enabled to come together to compare their findings in very different fields and to discuss a wide range of different issues concerning the Hmong population and society of Australia. Some...

  4. Culture and Settlement: The Present Situation of the Hmong in Australia
    (pp. 11-24)
    Gary Yia Lee

    It has been nearly thirty years since the first Hmong families arrived to settle in Australia in March 1976. Many more families followed until 1992 when the last were accepted from refugee camps in Thailand. Today, they number about 1,800.

    Given that most of them were former soldiers or subsistence farmers from Laos, how have they managed with their new life in highly industrialised urban Australia? This chapter will try to shed some light on this question and update the current state of Hmong settlement in the country since the first overview on the subject which I gave at an...

  5. Living Locally, Dreaming Globally: Transnational Cultural Imaginings and Practices in the Hmong Diaspora
    (pp. 25-58)
    Roberta Julian

    This chapter is part of a larger project exploring the impact of globalisation on Australian national identity. In this chapter I examine identification processes among a small Asian community in Australia by drawing on my research with Hmong in Tasmania. My involvement with the Hmong community in Tasmania began in 1993 when some colleagues and I from the University of Tasmania were approached by Vue Thaow, the first Hmong person to settle in Tasmania, to undertake research on Hmong settlement experiences. We secured funding from the then Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research to undertake a study of refugee...

  6. Hmong Diaspora in Australia
    (pp. 59-96)
    Nicholas Tapp

    North Queensland has been no stranger to ethnic variety and conflict. After the visits of early explorers, Leichhardt’s expedition of 1844–45 had led to a much greater knowledge of the north. Almost every expedition to the region seems to have involved fatal skirmishes with aboriginal inhabitants. Overland squatters started to arrive from the 1850s in search of pasturelands for sheep and cattle, and in 1859 Queensland was formally separated as a colony from New South Wales. Bolton (1963: 53) says that although aboriginal resistance had been successfully quelled within a few years of the coming of the white man,...

  7. Globalised Threads: Costumes of the Hmong Community in North Queensland
    (pp. 97-122)
    Maria Wronska-Friend

    There are very few societies in the world in which costume, whether an everyday dress or festive garment, has received such significant cultural recognition as in the case of the Hmong people. Costumes and silver jewellery have become for the Hmong their major form of artistic expression, a means of visual communication as well as a marker of ethnic identity. The Hmong costume adorns and protects, but it also sends subliminal messages about its owner’s gender, group membership, locality, marital status, wealth, and so on. This study is based on research conducted during 1995–2003 among Hmong communities in Innisfail...

  8. The Private and Public Lives of the Hmong Qeej and Miao Lusheng
    (pp. 123-152)
    Catherine Falk

    The Hmong qeej, sometimes called the lusheng¹ when used by the Miao in China, is a musical instrument which presents divergent and multiple personalities in its history, musical styles and contextual applications. On the one hand, the sound of this set of free reed pipes signifies death; on the other, it is used as a tool of public and happy display. In this chapter, I propose that the qeej occupies at least two spaces in Hmong thinking about themselves. The first space is for Hmong ears and eyes only. It occurs during funerals inside the house, the place of clan-specific...

  9. Being a Woman: The Social Construction of Menstruation Among Hmong Women in Australia
    (pp. 153-174)
    Pranee Liamputtong

    Women, Women ... Well! if you don’t have menses then you will not be able to have children, but if you have your menses then you will be able to have children (Fieldnotes 1994)

    Menstruation! People who are ignorant would say that it is a dirty thing, but it is the most important thing for you. If you don’t have that you are not able to have children. If you don’t have that you will not look healthy and it makes you look pale and unhealthy. If you have it you have no problems at all (Fieldnotes, 1997)

    Menstruation is a...

  10. Process and Goal in White Hmong
    (pp. 175-190)
    Nerida Jarkey

    My investigation of the White Hmong language was made possible through the kindness and generosity of my primary language teacher, Cua Lis, and her family: Cua’s husband Choj (Sao), Choj’s brothers Yeeb, Nkaj Yias (Gary), and Ntxawg (Yeu), and their dear mother Maiv Yaj. I also received enthusiastic help from Charlie Sayaxang, Sourivan Thongpao, Maiv Dub Yaj, and Ge and Niaj Pov Lis. Cua and her family originally came from Xieng Khoung province in Laos and, at the time I conducted the basic research for this investigation during the mid 1980s to early 1990s, they lived in Sydney, Australia.


  11. References
    (pp. 191-206)
  12. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 207-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-218)