My website has been live for almost 20 years now but hasn’t been updated for some time and I’d like to apologize to my readers for the neglect as I’ve been retired since 2014 and not so active with my writing. Other activities (like reading, traveling, gardening, babysitting my grand-children and just relaxing) have taken up much of my time, although new articles whether written by myself or others will continue to be uploaded on the site as they become available.
It’s been more than 10 years since my return from spending more than a year in 2006 as scholar-in-residence to develop courses and teach at the Center for Hmong Studies, Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. During that time, I have written one book and edited another while also trying to publish 1 - 2 articles per year. Some of these shorter publications are now on this website. I have also shared ideas and concerns at various international Hmong conferences such as the Hmong Studies Consortium at Chiangmai University in January 2017, where I spoke about conflicts between Christian and non-Christian Hmong. This religious issue will only increase in scope and needs more objective mature research in the future: it should not be a muted topic of conversation in our global community as it is today.
As I’ve previously stated, the loss of language and culture continues to remain a major issue for many Hmong, young and old, whether in Western countries or in the old homelands in Asia. Rapid urbanization and formal education in mainstream cultures are inevitable for a modern life, but they also bring about many conflicts and changes, some of which have eroded much of the old Hmong traditions. Already, some elderly Hmong cannot communicate with their younger descendants because the two groups speak different languages or follow conflicting values. In response to this concern, I gave a talk in 2018 to the Hmong Lee Association USA in Detroit on the negative effects of modern education on the Hmong community and what strategies we need to consider to counter this impact. In May 2019, I also addressed a conference on overseas migration and the establishment of “communities of destiny” in Guangzhou, China, regarding the impact of life in Western societies on the formation and maintenance of Hmong identity.
One of these conference addresses is now uploaded here, not to show that I have all the answers but merely to share ideas and to raise hopes. I would like to thank the conference conveners who have invited me to give talks on these issues, to see friends and relatives again, and to enjoy much sight-seeing in the process.
On a broader scale, the Hmong have made many strides towards progress and modernization. During the last ten years, there has been a huge explosion in the number of Hmong who use the Internet, especially Youtube and Facebook. We can now talk to and see each other at any time, at no cost. The Hmong who have access to this digital platform are now in instantaneous contact with other Hmong around the world and can communicate with each verbally or in writing. This has prompted many to become literate in Hmong writing, especially our women and girls who often have less access to schooling. The Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA) script seems to be the more commonly used, largely due to the proliferation of computers with English letters. Even many commercial goods are now found with RPA writing.
As in the past, I hope that the contents of this website will help readers to be entertained and informed, to understand the Hmong better: their culture, religion, transnational ties and issues of concern. Above all, I hope the Hmong, especially our young people, who read my writings will regain a clearer sense of understanding and acceptance of who and what they represent. For this to happen, we need to know Hmong history, language and traditions. We should dress in Hmong costumes at New Year festivals. We need to speak Hmong in everyday life between ourselves and our children. We need to read Hmong folk tales to our children. We should enjoy our young people and their group dancing, and listen to Hmong music, including our latest rap artists. We should watch Hmong movies, even foreign movies dubbed in Hmong. Accept and take pride in anything good done by our Hmong people.
Thanks to the Hmong in America and their consumer power, the Hmong culture has been so enriched that we are now on par with other cultures in the world. We are as modern and up to date as anyone else, so we should be proud of this achievement while not losing our Hmong self-image. A good knowledge of Hmong culture leads to a better sense of identity. A clearer identity leads to more self-confidence and pride. When we have confidence and pride, we can contribute to society.
I would like to put in a plea to my readers. The publications on this website are copyright materials. Although they are available online in the “public domain”, anyone who wishes to use the publications other than for the purposes of study and research, should first obtain permission from the author. In the past, some readers have cut and pasted parts of some articles for their essays or political brochure without any acknowledgement whilst others have downloaded whole articles to support their arguments in online discussion groups. While I am pleased that my writings have been found useful in this way, this practice has also landed me in a lot of trouble. It is also unethical, so I strongly urge you not to do it – at least, do try to let me know first.
Before closing, I would like to pay tribute to my friend, Prof. Nicholas Tapp who was not only the most prolific writer on the Hmong, but also very sympathetic. He always showed much respect for the people he studied. During his professional life, Nick wrote 10 books and 39 articles on the Hmong of Australia, Canada, China and Thailand. After his retirement from the Australian National University (Canberra) in June 2010, he returned to China with his family, having obtained a teaching position as Professor and Head of Sociology at the Institute of Folklore and Anthropology, East China Normal University, Shanghai. From September 2011 to the time of his passing in October 2015, Nick was Director at the Research Institute of Anthropology. Many of his significant articles on the Hmong were collected in a commemorative book entitled Mobility, Globalization and Development of the Hmong: Selected Essays of Nicholas Tapp published in 2018 by his former Chinese academic colleagues at East China Normal University. Nick left a big legacy for us with his writings on the Hmong (see my article in this website), but equally important is his generosity towards the Hmong: he left funds in his estate that went to support the education of Hmong children in Chiangmai, Thailand; and his family (through his son Jeremy and daughter Amanda) also raised funds at his memorial service which went to support the education of Hmong children in Laos. I would like to thank Nick and his family most warmly for their kind support.
Again, I would like to thank my webmaster and readers who have written to me with their challenging questions and supportive remarks. I would also like to acknowledge the unfailing support of my wife, children and extended family throughout my intellectual endeavours.