I thought the 1st presentation on Shamanism was quite engaging. I really liked how the group used a lot of current media from our generation to compare and contrast how Hmong Shamanism is portrayed either correctly or incorrectly. The Lemoine article discusses how the Shaman prepares for rituals by going through an elaborate process with specific dress and specific items in order to communicate and summon spirits. It also talks about how the patient has 12 vital souls and that if a patient has a type of illness such as epilepsy, that there is an evil image associated with that illness. I thought that this was pretty interesting that there are such complex structures/guides that Shamans use to interpret their patients ailments with.
During the presentation I thought that the presenters gave us a nice background of Shamanism from their own family perspective. It was nice to hear a firsthand account of something that they themselves have experienced and were possibly involved with. I also found it intriguing when the presenters said that if you’re prone to epilepsy or that you have been visited by a ghost that it was a sign that you were to be a future shaman. I thought the documentary look and felt like it was professionally done. I felt like I learned a lot from it through the interviews that they carried out with both younger and older generations. It was nice to have those perspectives and the wealth of knowledge. I found it to be sad but expected that not having the same religious views would “turn family against family”. There were several interviewees that mentioned that if they did not attend religious ceremonies/rituals that the elders would be highly upset and they would take it very personally. From a 3rd person perspective, I can see both sides of the argument that the elders see it as the younger generations being unable to one day carry on or losing these traditions while the younger generations are having more Westernized ideals and are consumed with their own lives that may be more involved in their occupation or school and therefore do not have the time to devote to the rituals. The question I would ask the presenters is: Do you feel like your own family will be able to carry on these traditions or do you feel like eventually, the interest to do so will dissipate?
The 2nd presentation was also very informative and very interesting. Mai Moua and Boon talked about the rearing of Hmong children and how they are growing up with and struggling with dual identities as Hmong and as Americans. I felt like their presentation and the article, “Caught Between Two Cultures” resonated a lot of feelings of many Asian communities in regards to struggles of adapting to a free society and also enforced patriarchal and hierarchical traditional upbringing. I think that as an Asian American, these two views/ideals are very contradictory in terms of the message that is being sent to the child who is being exposed to both ideals. This is something Boon and Mai Moua went over when they talked about how Hmong children develop independent thoughts and actions which parents view as “dangerously out of control”. There’s this power struggle present from the parents who try to assert control and at the same time society and television is telling them that they are free to make their own choices no matter what. I thought their use of the Pokemon cartoon was a very good interpretation where Ash, the main protagonist is a 10 year old boy who just goes out into the dangerous world without a chaperone and involves himself in battles with his opponents in every episode and makes all his own choices to be who he wants to be. I never really thought about the messages these cartoons may unconsciously convey and how influential/damaging it might be to young children. My question to the group would be, although you are more Americanized than your parents, would you allow your children to watch Pokemon one day?