Hmong in the Twin Cities: Diaspora Experiences and Personal Identities

Authors: Anisha RajBhandary*, Macalester College
Topics: Cultural Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Ethnic Geography
Keywords: Asian Diaspora, Hmong Americans, Urban Livelihoods, Asian Model Minority, Identity, Refugees
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 25
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Asian Americans have often been portrayed as “model minorities” due to their higher degree of socioeconomic success compared to the average population. However, this “model minority” portrait primarily based upon the voluntary immigration experiences of East and South Asians with greater socio-economic resources, hardly accounts for the immigration experiences of other Asian groups such as Hmong Americans. Utilizing extensive literature review and first person interviews, this paper explores Hmong diaspora and identity in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, analyzing how Hmong Americans reconcile with the stereotypes set for Asian “model minorities” and construct their own unique identities. Through adopting the “Asian diaspora” perspective, this paper examines how Hmong Americans in the Twin Cities area create their personal identities through various connections to the history and memory of war, the refugee experience of moving across spaces, family networks and relations, as well as the localized experience of urban livelihoods. Due to the Twin Cities Hmong community’s large size and diversity--standing as one of the primary Hmong hubs in the US and home to various Hmong social, cultural and political organizations--studying this community helps contribute a more nuanced understanding of the multitude of Hmong American urban identities.

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