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Emerging Voices

Emerging Voices: Experiences of Underrepresented Asian Americans

EDITED BY Huping Ling
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Emerging Voices
    Book Description:

    Emerging Voicesfills a cultural gap in Asian American Studies with its unique and compelling discussion of underrepresented groups, including Burmese, Indonesian, Mong, Hmong, Nepalese, Romani, Tibetan, and Thai Americans. Bringing together eminent scholars from a variety of disciplines, this collection considers a wide range of themes, including assimilation and adaptation, immigration patterns, community, education, ethnicity, economics, family, gender, marriage, religion, sexuality, and work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4625-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction: Emerging Voices of Underrepresented Asian Americans
    (pp. 1-14)

    The above personal quotes give examples of the specific socioeconomic and political experiences of the underrepresented Asian Americans prior to their immigration to the United States, and of some of the issues and problems they confronted after their arrival in this country.¹ While a growing number of popular and scholarly works on Asian Americans reflect and interpret the experiences of the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Asian Indian Americans—the first and larger groups of Asian Americans—many newer and smaller groups such as the Burmese, Hmong, Indonesians, Kashmiri, Laotians, Mong, Roma, Thai, and Tibetans have remained underrepresented and understudied...

  5. Part I Emerging Consciousness:: Emigration and Ethnic Identity

    • Chapter 2 From Laos to America: The Hmong Community in the United States
      (pp. 17-33)
      Franklin Ng

      Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the Hmong from Laos have become an increasingly visible part of the American population. Part of a “secret war” in Laos conducted by the U.S. government and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Hmong cooperated with the Royal Lao army to fight the Communist Pathet Lao. They also fought against the Communist North Vietnamese, who had entered Laos through the Ho Chi Minh Trail to provide supplies for the Vietcong in South Vietnam. When the U.S. government decided that the overall situation in Laos was no longer tenable, it asked the...

    • Chapter 3 Cultural Transition and Adjustment: The Experiences of the Mong in the United States
      (pp. 34-51)
      Paoze Thao

      Over one million Southeast Asian refugees have arrived in the United States since the fall of the Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese governments to the Communists in 1975.¹ These include the Cambodians and Chinese Cambodians from Cambodia; the Lao, Mong, Thai Dam, Mien, Khmu, and Lahu from Laos; and the Vietnamese and Chinese Vietnamese from Vietnam.² This chapter focuses on the experiences of the Mong in the United States.

      The Mong have a history over 5,000 years. Having no writing system of their own until the 1950s, their early history was recorded by Chinese and Western scholars dating back to 2497...

    • Chapter 4 The Role of Ethnic Leaders in the Refugee Community: A Case Study of the Lowland Lao in the American Midwest
      (pp. 52-70)
      Pamela A. De Voe

      The Lowland Lao came into the United States predominantly as refugees after the mid-1970s. In spite of their small numbers and significant socio-cultural-economic incongruities with the American society, they adjusted to their new environment and, through their interaction with the larger society, brought a higher level of understanding about their cultural traditions to their multiethnic American neighbors. In order to understand how this was accomplished, this chapter looks at a Lowland Lao community in the Midwest, their leaders, and the role their leaders played both in helping the community adjust and in developing a bridge between their community and the...

    • Chapter 5 “Displaced People” Adjusting to New Cultural Vocabulary: Tibetan Immigrants in North America
      (pp. 71-89)
      Yosay Wangdi

      At the reception center in Dharamsala, India, sixty-two-year-old Wangyal from Jonta Dzong District in Derge, Tibet, recalled his twenty-two painful years in prison (1959–1982) in the People’s Republic of China. During the horror of the Cultural Revolution, he added, many Tibetans were killed, many committed suicide. “What kept you alive?” I asked. “Hope,” he responded. He hoped that the United States would some day come to the “aid” of Tibet.¹ Improbable yearnings characterized Wangyal’s “hope”; yet it gives insight about how human consciousness encounters untenable situations, such as the despair of long-term incarceration. On another level, hope transformed Tibetan...

    • Chapter 6 Unity and Diversity among Indonesian Migrants to the United States
      (pp. 90-108)
      Clark E. Cunningham

      About 50,000 Indonesians live in all parts of the United States, and perhaps half as many more reside illegally.¹ About half of the legal migrants live in California, and about three-quarters of the legal migrants in the state live in Southern California, which probably applies to illegals as well. Unlike people from lowland and highland Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos who came to the United States as refugees after the Vietnam War, Indonesians have come as voluntary migrants. However, the term “voluntary” must be qualified. In the late 1980s and especially the 1990s, Indonesians of Chinese descent and Indonesian peoples who...

    • Chapter 7 Dynamics, Intricacy, and Multiplicity of Romani Identity in the United States
      (pp. 109-125)
      Suzuko Morikawa

      The rich history of Romani Americans has long been absent from U.S. history, even after the emergence of various ethnic studies programs in the late 1960s.¹ Between 1.0 and 1.5 million people of Romani descent live in major American cities; Romani Americans maintain a multilayered identity as descendants of the Roma,² people of northwestern India, in combination with their recent experience, mainly from Europe and the United States. Similar to about 10 million other Romani throughout the world,³ Romani American identity has been rigorously constructed by their unique history of migration and struggle, along with their shared linguistic, cultural, and...

    • Chapter 8 Community Identity of Kashmiri Hindus in the United States
      (pp. 126-142)
      Haley Duschinski

      Kashmir, the rugged and remote region located high in the Himalayan ranges of south Asia, is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous war zones in the contemporary world. Given the extensive amount of commentary and analysis that has focused on the conflict there, it is somewhat surprising that there is virtually no academic literature dealing with Kashmiri immigrant communities in the United States. Since the beginning of the current conflict in Kashmir in 1990, the Kashmiri American community has been fractured into two groups on the basis of religion, Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Hindus. Kashmiri Muslims represent the...

  6. Part II Emerging Contributions:: Gender, Work, Religion, and Education

    • Chapter 9 Thai Americans: Performing Gender
      (pp. 145-159)
      Jiemin Bao

      Since the early 1980s, scholars have been conducting research on mainland Southeast Asian Americans, mostly the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong. The literature reveals that these Southeast Asian Americans have struggled to maintain certain cultural practices while simultaneously integrating into American society.¹ Reconfigured gender relationships have been examined, but sexuality—in particular, conjugal sexuality, a crucial component of these gender relationships—is rarely addressed.

      Drawing upon fieldwork conducted in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand, intermittently between 1988 and 2003, and more recently among Thai Americans at a Buddhist temple in the San Francisco Bay Area, this chapter follows people in...

    • Chapter 10 The Gender of Practice: Some Findings among Thai Buddhist Women in Northern California
      (pp. 160-182)
      Todd LeRoy Perreira

      Thai women who immigrate to America are situated at the crossroads of some of the most significant concerns in global studies of transnational communities and feminist anthropology, including female labor migration across international borders, sex tourism, wealth redistribution, the commodification of women, identity formation, and non-Western models of gender and sexual categories. This chapter considers how Thai women in America renegotiate traditional gender roles to fulfill personal aspirations while advancing the financial and spiritual welfare of their families in Thailand and the United States. I analyze how migrant Thai women engage and finesse models of gender by legitimizing a conception...

    • Chapter 11 Women of the Temple: Burmese Immigrants, Gender, and Buddhism in a U.S. Frame
      (pp. 183-198)
      Tamara C. Ho

      This perspective—from a respected scholar-activist whose father was the first elected president of independent Burma and whose mother was a member of the Burmese Parliament and founder of the Shan State Army—aptly introduces Burmese women as gendered subjectivities, overshadowed by myths and patriarchal traditions, yet recognized as adept managers of private and public affairs.¹ Yawnghwe’s certainty that women are “definitely superior” reflects the discursive contours of Burmese femininity, too often rendered as noble “savage”/savior and tragic, debased victim. Southeast Asian scholarship, reportage, and popular representations offer vexed views of Burmese women’s status. Various accounts from the nineteenth and...

    • Chapter 12 The Function of Ethnicity in the Adaptation of Burmese Religious Practices
      (pp. 199-217)
      Joseph Cheah

      Burmese of Chinese descent comprise the majority of immigrants from Burma to the United States.¹ Many came to the United States after the 1967 anti-Chinese riot in Burma. They were victims of socioeconomic oppression and race-based educational discrimination under the Ne Win government and its successive military regime, known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) or State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Because the majority of the Chinese-Burmese are Buddhists in terms of their religious affiliation, they probably represent the first sizable group of immigrants to the United States who are Theravādans by birth. Like the Catholics,...

    • Chapter 13 Parent–Child Conflict within the Mong Family
      (pp. 218-235)
      Chimeng Yang

      An estimated 3.4 million Mong live all over the world today, but the vast majority live in China. Those Mong who live in the United States are a group of political refugees coming from Laos after the Vietnam War. They settled all across the United States, with the majority of them in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

      The Mong came to the United States carrying their world with them: their memories of farming, fighting the war, escaping the Communists by the arduous journey from Laos to Thailand, and living conditions in the refugee camps in Thailand. They also brought with them...

    • Chapter 14 Hmong American Contemporary Experience
      (pp. 236-254)
      Kou Yang

      The Hmong American community is one of the least known and less-documented Asian American groups. They are a minority within the Asian American community; being obscured under the stereotypes of the “model minority” myth, many of their pressing needs and issues are not properly addressed and responded to. Moreover, they have experienced a vast variety of acculturation barriers, problems, and needs as a result of being refugees of the U.S. “secret war” in Laos, and they are one of the least educationally and vocationally prepared refugee groups from Indochina to adapt to life in the United States.

      The interface with...

  7. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 255-258)
  8. Index
    (pp. 259-266)