Thursday, June 13, 2013

Yee Xiong - Research Proposal

In this research paper, I purpose to explore the motivations of Hmong queers coming out and their impacts on the Hmong American community.  There has not been an extensive study on how Hmong queer bodies navigate between the hetero-normative space in the Hmong American community and the larger LGBTIQ community.  Hmong parents also do not accept queerness in the family, why is this? I will figure out the reasons and motivations behind their disapproval and see if it has to do with more than just morals and beliefs.  Understand their background and approaches.  As a Hmong student and an ally of the LGBTIQ community at UC Davis, I want to explore more Hmong queer narratives and experiences to better provide resources and support Hmong queers coming out in our community.

SOY: Shades of Yellow is the first Hmong non-profit organization that provides for the LGBTIQ bodies in the Hmong American community.  It is based in Minnesota and has shown that the resources are very much needed and has been proven helpful to the Hmong American community residing there.  However, it is still being under attacked because parents and families are outraged that such queer communities exist in the Hmong American community. 

Using Foucault’s POWER AND KNOWLEDGE theory: how power is used to control knowledge and how it’s used as a form in socially controlled spaces.

Methodology: qualitative method; survey dedicated to Hmong queers’ narratives + Data on Hmong American socioeconomic trends, parents’ influence over children, and ability to communicate with parents and family 


Week 8
Vang’s chapter on culture and our in-class discussions was about authenticity. So what is authenticity? I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing, it is a construction and accepted as real. Vang points out that the Hmong New Year was altered in Long Cheng because the community transitioned into an urban settlement (pg.104). Such things as Lao dancing, beauty pageants, and stage performances were never apart of the event or culture, but has been introduced and accepted as the norm now. This points to how authenticity and culture can be created. In addition to this, foods from various influences are common at festivals and ceremonies. Dishes from Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand have found their way into the Hmong’s daily diets.
Personally I agree with Vang’s assertion, the event changes depending on the location and type of economy. For example here in the states, the New Years are centered on consumerism. There are many booths that sell, sell, and sell. This new orientation alienates a lot of the elders who miss the community aspect of the event. My folks are very disinterested in the New Years because it’s not what they remember it to be. Younger folks now don’t participate in the community activities they use to engage in: such as exchange of songs and ball tossing.
Pictures and information on the Ball Tossing courtship:


Week 4
Bill Ong Hing’s article and “Sentenced Home” were very emotional and difficult materials for me to digest. It reveals the extent that the government exercises to rid of “unwanted” people. It shows that we are disposable! We are nothing to them! The government accepts immigrants, throws them in low socioeconomic communities, and later banishes them for minor crimes. They expect model citizens to be cultivated from marginalized environments; their formula doesn't balance out and is contradictory. Regardless of their citizenship status, that is not how you treat people, especially if you are a world power who globally propagandize freedom and in the Middle East.
On a more academic tone, I wondered about the contributions of 9/11 to deportation? How has the narrative change due to a panic of “terrorism”? Did deportation increase or decrease, and is it proportional across racial lines? I think Hing’s article could be enhanced by adding a 9/11 lenses. I know that immigrants from Mexico and South America are portrayed as taking up all of the jobs, stressing the social services, drug traffickers, and criminals. However, history tells us that their immigration was welcomed as cheap labor force in the past. Drawing an association, I wondered about the change of governmental narratives for Southeast Asian deportation before and after 9/11?

An immigration protest picture.


Week 9
The fluid exchange of music, technology, and information astounds me because this increased transnationalism changes the relationship of Vietnamese and oversea Vietnamese. This begs the question of the acceptability of increase partnership in the future. Will it decrease the automatic hatred of each other? However, this inquiry is only targeted to the regular people and not towards the elites. I find elites to have a stronger investment to ideology for manipulation purposes; the ordinary person is much more concern about practicality. But will transnationalism, such as the IT sector, relax governmental policies as they witness development, or will they have an even stronger sense of containment?
I especially found the chapter on music extremely interesting as I observe the same phenomenon in the Hmong community. Singers there tour all over the states and some do marry Hmong Americans and reside permanently here. In addition, Hmong companies here would travel there to record albums and sell it globally. They also film a lot of music videos in Southeast Asia because it’s cheaper and for its scenery. The music chapter really connected many similar occurrences of transnationalism.

A video of a Hmong star from Southeast Asia performing in France. 

Quynh Dinh-Week 10

The Epilogue: Remembering the Forgetting of Schlund-Vials “War, Genocide, and Justice” concludes at the end “what characterizes and categorizes Cambodian American memory work is a generational impulse to constantly remember the forgetting as an alternative means to justice, reclamation, and reparation” (pg. 194). Indeed the genocide caused by the Khmer Rouge left an enormous wound in the Cambodian refugees and those who survived through it. The history need to be told so that we know to value human rights, morals and social justice. Many artists put their effort in keeping the “memory” in variety of art works—film, music, poems, memoir...One example that I like is Ali’s poem “Visiting Loss”:
        I will return to a country I have never known
        that burns a hole inside my heart the size of home
        When I arrive, 
        …will I ask these same questions
        or will I be asked to prove my belonging
This short stanza speaks a lot for Cambodian Americans who are born in America and have never return to Cambodia. They feel missing “home” in their heart because they do not have a chance to physically make connection to their homeland since they are born here. And when they decide to come back, they worry if they would be recognized as a Cambodian and be accepted or would they “be asked to prove [their] belonging”—What do they have in order to prove their “connection”, their identity? This is not only a concern to Cambodian American but also to other ethnic groups that grow up in America. Where do they actually belong to? What is their true identity? The precious thing they own is “memory” which they collect in books and all kinds of media. And I wonder is that enough for them, for us to understand everything about their homeland, about the war, genocide and hardship?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Quynh Dinh- Research Proposal/Bibliography

“It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
                                                                                                             -Albert Einstein
My research will be circling around the U.S. War Crimes. During Vietnam War, many “slaughtering” style missions had been authorized for unjust purpose such as body count. To achieve the number, they would kill anyone. By “anyone” I meant not only the targeted VC but also unharmed civilians (young to old men, women, children, and even infants). One of the vivid examples is the My Lai massacre, 1968. The order was “Kill anything that moves” and “Search and Destroy”. And with that permission, bullets were blindly fired.
Besides massive murder, other committed crimes are rapes and body mutilation. Even though in the 1970s, interviews and investigations had been opened but nothing leased until 2005. The higher-up covered them all: “A massive 9 thousand pages of evidence implicating U.S. troops in a wide range of atrocities…the Pentagon kept the entire collection under wraps” (Nelson pg. 2).
The U.S. goal of going to VN war is to assist Democracy and prevent the spread of Communism in VN. They came to help Vietnamese people, to liberate the country from the North communists. But what was that with all the gruel slaughter on unharmed civilians? I see a huge contradiction between the U.S.’s intention and their act. Therefore in my paper, I want to criticize the U.S. perceptions about VN. The fact that they came to VN without knowing VN culture and history lead to false assumptions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Here is the outline of my paper:
-          First I will introduce My Lai massacre as a case study to point out the U.S. war crimes (rape, murder)
-          Then criticize some perceptions about Vietnamese and VC from the U.S. soldier’s perspective.
-          Analyze some factors contributing to the birth of those perceptions/ stereotypes and what could have been done to prevent this outcome.

- Books (case studies and interview records)
- Journals
- Oral interview clips. 

Karlin, Wayne. Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam. New York: Nation, 2009. Print.
Nelson, Deborah. The War behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes. New York: Basic, 2008. Print.
Sherman, Nancy. The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of Our Soldiers. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010. Print.
Carbonella, August. "Structures of Fear, Spaces of Hope." Anthropologica 51.2 (2009): 353-61. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <>.
Kieran, David. "‘It’s a Different Time. It’s a Different Era. It’s a Different Place’: The Legacy of Vietnam and Contemporary Memoirs of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." War & Society 31.1 (2012): 64-83. Web. 22 April 2013.
Jespersen, Christopher T. "Analogies at War: Iraq and Vietnam." OAH Magazine of History 27.1 (2013): 19-22. America: History & Life. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
Flamm, Michael W. "From Testimony to Tragedy: My Lai in Personal Perspective." OAH Magazine of History 22.4 (2008): 54-57. America: History & Life. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
Harrison, Benjamin T., and Christopher L. Mosher. "The Secret Diary of McNamara's Dove: The Long-Lost Story of John T. McNaughton's Opposition to the Vietnam War." Diplomatic History 35.3 (2011): 505-34. America: History & Life. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
Platoon. Dir. Oliver Stone. Perf. Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe. Orion Pictures, 1986. DVD.
In the Year of the Pig. Dir. Emile De Antonio. Perf. Harry S. Ashmore and Daniel Berrigan. McGraw-Hill Films, 1968. DVD.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Eddie Truong - Week 10

In "Vietnamese Diaspora Revisited" in Transnationalizing Viet Nam by Caroline Kieu-Linh Valverde, the author brings up a situation in which a Vietnamese student was brutalized by San Jose police. In this case, the Vietnamese American community mobilized in order to protest the brutality, but support immediately dispersed once they discovered that the student was a Vietnamese national. The lack of support was directly attributable to the political implications of being connected to a communist presence, indicative of sustained antagonism towards the Vietnamese state.

As such, Valverde's analyses reveal long-standing tensions and nuanced dimensions of the Vietnamese American experience that is rarely discussed. An especially interesting analysis is the ways in which anticommunism continues to be a pervasive force in the ways in which politics and culture production is regulated within the community. In many ways, I believe that anticommunism is the manifestation of sustained resentment towards the Fall of Sai Gon. In many ways, we can observe anticommunism as the direct reshaping of diaspora in order to replicate a lost nation. In recreating the nation, anticommunism plays a central role in the diasporic re-imagining of the homeland. In this way, will anticommunism continue to be a driving force in the politics and culture production of the Vietnamese community?

Eddie Truong - Research Blog

The recent rise in Vietnamese American scholarship nationwide reveals that much of previous literature is being challenged and revised as additional nuances of Vietnamese American experiences are being theorized, explored, and described in the 21st century. Despite this, the dominant rhetoric of Vietnamese American Studies focuses on Vietnam War trauma, refugee experiences, nationalism, and post memory (Espiritu 2008, Morag 2006). These dialogues focus upon critical aspects of Vietnamese American experiences, but an important frame of analysis is consistently left out of the discussion: Vietnamese anticommunism. A sustained analysis of Vietnamese anticommunism reveals internal community dynamics that are rarely discussed. Of the literature that mentions Vietnamese anticommunism, very few are critical of the community dynamics produced by anticommunism. As such, I argue that there needs to be additional lenses or approaches toward the critical study of the Vietnamese American community internal politics in order to describe a more complete picture of their experiences.
There is some literature that suggests that the Vietnamese American community “lives in a state of fear. Fear of not adhering to anticommunist dogma, in particular, has placed most Vietnamese Americans in a Foucaldian state of self-monitoring” (Valverde 2012). This state of fear refers the forms of policing over Vietnamese community members, conducted and perpetuated by members of that very same community. There is also literature that describes the gendered forms of control over the Vietnamese female body in the patriarchal community, which manifests itself into a variant of anticommunism (Duong & Pelaud 2012). These studies describe the state of constant fear that members of the community face. In many ways, the communist label is more than simply the shunning of an individual from their friends and family; rather, it is the erasure of the individual’s cultural sense of self. The communist label is able to eradicate all cultural identify, despite how strongly the individual identifies with the Vietnamese refugee or Vietnamese American experience. In light of this, the additional fear of physical or psychological harm is always present. It is a constant force; an uncomfortable sensation that cannot be dismissed or ignored.    

            As a unique theoretical contribution to the field of Vietnamese American Studies, I argue there needs to be an expansion of the definition of the theoretic scope of terrorism to include the community unit of analysis. Currently, terrorism only encompasses the definitions of national domestic terrorism or terrorism between nation-states. By expanding the scope of this definition, scholars would be able to theorize about Vietnamese American political dynamics on a new level and rigorously define community politics on a new level. Through theorizing “Community Terrorism Studies”, I aim to shift the scholarly discourse on anticommunist protesting, policing, and culture production.

Works Cited

Duong, Lan and Isabelle Thuy Pelaud. “Vietnamese American Art and Community Politics: An Engaged Feminist Perspective”. Journal of Asian American Studies, 15:3, 241-269.

Espiritu, Yen Le. 2008. “About Ghost Stories: The Vietnam War and Rememoration”. Publications of the Modern Language Association, 123, no. 5 (2008 Oct): 1700-1702.

Morag, Raya. 2006. “Defeated Masculinity: Post-Traumatic Cinema in the Aftermath of the Vietnam War”. The Communication Review, 9:3, 189-219.

Nguyen, T. (Director & Producer). 2011. Enforcing the Silence. United States: Birjinder Films.

Tran, Tuyen. Behind the Smoke and Mirrors : The Vietnamese in California, 1975-1994. Diss. University of California, Berkeley, 2007

Valverde, Caroline Kieu-Linh. Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora. Temple University Press, 2012 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Liz Shigetoshi - Week 10

In "Conclusion", the author, Chia Youyee Vang, explains that the many experiences and interactions of the Hmong people who come to the United States contribute to the struggle of maintaining their ethnic identity. The Hmong people, like many other American immigrants, face the challenge of utilizing and inventing traditions that keep them unique while also maintaining some continuity. Vang notes how change is inevitable as new social structures are being established and social sacrifices are put to test for the new generations of Hmong Americans. I wondered the following: Will there be a comparable difference struggle for identity for Hmong Americans in smaller cities versus larger ones? Or even different regions of the United States like maybe those in Minnesota versus those in California. In the end, reading this chapter made me reflect on the Hmong community that I have seen in Sacramento, and how over the years, I've noticed that they are a very active and connected community. That's really admirable to me. Being someone who wasn't active in the Japanese or the Vietnamese community, but more so an observer of all communities in America, I can appreciate Vang's ability to tell the history and the struggle that Hmong Americans face in developing personal identities as well as ethnic ones. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kevin's Research Proposal

  My research is on Hmong American rappers. The artist I chose was Tou Saiko Lee and the piece I shared with you all was called "30 Years of War." The purpose of this paper was originally to write about how rap close the gap between the youth and the elders. One thing I did not think about was how does rap affect the elders and if it really does it. It may benefit the youth but what more can rap offer? Also during my presentation, we discussed that the song I presented was post-memory making, which is creating the refugee experience without living it.
  Many youth even the 1.5 generation, did not experience the refugee experience and yet they write about it as if they lived and seen it. Is this what Hmong American rap is coming to when it comes to writing about Southeast Asian experience or the parent's experience?
 Although I only shared one song of the artist, Lee has other songs focused on social justice and cultural preservation. There are a couple of performances where Lee performed together with his grandmother. His grandmother sang a "paj huam" which is the equivalent to free styling in rap but it is spoken in Hmong. Lee has written a piece on the infamous murder of 19 year old Fong Lee, who was shot nine times by the police and claimed that he had a gun to justify his shooting. The piece mention connective marginalities, which brings incidents such as Fong Lee and compares it to similar experience such as Oscar Grant.
  It would seem that I should write more about that rather than the post memory making, but let me know what sounds better.

In the Memory of Justice - Tou Saiko Lee


Anh- Week 6: "Kelly Loves Tony". Does Tony Love Kelly? Does Kelly Still Love Tony?

Week 6: “Kelly Loves Tony” portrays a real story of a young Iu-mien couple that is also often found in other ethnic groups among the Southeast Asian communities. Being high school sweethearts, Kelly quickly has Tony’s child. Even though she’s still determined to attend college, Tony isn’t. He accepts the way life is with his high school diploma. The conflict happens here on. Tony expects Kelly to be more of a “mother figure” – to stay home and take care of the house and the kid.

The ending is left open-ended to this relationship. I don’t doubt Kelly’s and Tony’s affection to each other when they are in high school. However, they now have different mindsets. When Kelly keeps pursuing higher education and being aspired by the many people who are equally educated, Tony still has the same conservativeness of a tradition Iu-Mien family. Thus, despite the love he has for Kelly, he still pressures her to stay home and take care of the household.

The young couple has been enduring for a few years but Kelly grows out of Tony’s standard. Between education and Tony, she really has to choose one over the other because the second child doesn’t just double the weight but quadruple it on Kelly’s shoulder.