Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Presentation #4: Culture

The theme of this week’s student presentations were centered on culture. Due to being sick I was not able to make it to class and therefore cannot provide feedback on the presentations. I will however comment on the readings and little on the presentation from what I have heard from others.
Written by an anthropologist, “Commentary: The (H)mong Shaman’s Power of Healing Sharing the Esoteric Knowledge of a Great Mong Shaman” provides insight on Hmong culture, specifically focusing on the Hmong Shamanism. This paper is very intriguing as it detailed the anthropologist’s firsthand experience living in the village for two years. The anthropologist, Jacques Lemoine, offers insight from an outsider perspective and tries to make sense of Shamanism. Prior to reading this paper, I had no knowledge of Shamanism. I appreciate the way in which Lemoine attempts to understand the religion and its practice but it is apparent that as an outsider complete understanding is ultimately inevitable. In addition to this reading, the presenters have also included a combination of interviews from second generation Hmong individuals and examples of Shamanism in the media. Incorporating a broad range of perspectives within their research on Shamanism will most definitely add to the analysis of its role and impact on the younger generation.
The second presentation was centered on the often conflicting identities of Hmong Americans. The reading “Caught Between Culture: Hmong Parents in America’s Sibling Society” was very interesting. It explores parents’ perspective on American society and their ways of childrearing in response to mainstream American culture. Additionally, it introduces the idea of a “sibling society” and the implications of American culture on traditional Hmong values. Although it was specifically about the Hmong community, I believe that it could be applied to the broader Asian American experience. As a first generation Vietnamese American, there are definitely times in which I feel like my Vietnamese culture and my American culture clash. This often takes form in disagreements with my parents over different values that we hold. It would most definitely be interesting if the researchers on this topic incorporated their own findings through interviews with parents and students. Although this paper is relatively current, there may in fact be some differences uncovered especially since the population studied was a Hmong community in Minneapolis.
I really wish I could have been in class to hear these two presentations as I have heard that they were both topics were well presented and insightful!

Christina Nguyen

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