May 23, 2012
Week 8 Reflection
I thought both presentations on Hmong were well done. The first presentation focused on Shaminism while the second one focused on Hmong children and family relations. The first presentation had a great example when they used the video clip from the popular TV series “House.” I thought that this was a particularly good idea because House is one of the very mainstream TV series that focuses on medicine. This episode was essentially a clash between Eastern and Western medicine. In the beginning of the episode, there is a spirit that attempts to claim the child by choking him and taking over his body. To Hmong people, this is interpreted as a spirit possessing the child but to the West, this is simply dismissed as a bad dream followed by a series of unexplainable symptoms that will eventually go, or not go, away. While the Western doctors in this episode again and again refused to believe in the potential of a Shaman’s power, the certainly could not deny it. By the end of the episode, the child had been cured of his ailment but there is a mystic tone which suggests that we still cannot be certain if the western medicine or Shaman had cured the child. This episode can be extended to a power struggle between Southeast Asian traditions and values in American mainstream culture and how White Supremacy tends to dismiss traditions and values that do not have Anglo origins.
I also thought the video with interviews asking Hmong people what Shaminism is was also a good idea. Since many documentaries and interviews watched in class are several years old, it is very refreshing to be able to watch a series of interviews that not only interview Hmong students at UC Davis, but local community members in the Sacramento area as well—an area that has a predominantly large Hmong population. This video also highlighted the importance in maintaining tradition and religion because the defining a specific religion is very difficult as it can be very broad or there may be different aspects and versions depending on who practices it and from what region they came from. The only things that I feel these presenters can improve on is making sure they finish according to the specific time frame that they were intended as to not take away from other’s presentations or need to cut their presentation short. I also would recommend that the presentation be more interactive as while the visual parts of the presentation, the lecture about Shaminism was quite dull since it was a lot of information to take it and little room to process it.
The second presentation was understandably rushed since the presenters were given less time than they had anticipated. Given the time constraints, I thought the presentation as very thorough and interesting. The two powerpoint slides that particularly stood out to me were the ones about Pokemon and The Fairy Odd Parents. I thought it was a good idea to take media examples that that most of the audience were familiar with and analyzed them in the context of the presenter’s topic. While the presentation was still lecture style, the connections that the audience made with the examples provided made the presentation more interesting, therefore more intriguing and even engaging as it provided an avenue for the audience to rethink about the messages that the mainstream American media are conveying, specifically to children.