Bridging Hmong/Miao, extending Miaojiang: divided space, translocal contacts, and the imagination of Hmongland

by Weidong Zhang (Winona State University, USA)

Working Papers WP 17-02
March 2017
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Over the past several decades, the Hmong communities scattered around the world and their co-ethnic Miao ethnic group in China came into close contact. This paper explores the nature and dynamics of this encounter as well as the connections and ties that have been rediscovered and reestablished between the Hmong in diaspora and the Miao in China, two groups long separated by time and distance, and the impact and implications this entails. Based on three-month fieldwork in the Hmong/Miao communities across Southwest China and Southeast Asia, this paper examines the ever increasing movement of people and materials, as well as symbolic flows on the one hand, and connections and linkages between different localities on the other hand. It discusses how this new fast-changing development contributes to a new translocal imagination of Hmong community, re-territorialization of a new continuous Hmong space, a Hmongland encompassing Southwest provinces of China and northern part of Southeast Asian countries, and what it means to the Hmong/Miao people in the region. It further discuses how the emerging translocal imagination of the Hmong/Miao community will produce unique translocal subjects and how it interacts with the nation-states they belong to.

Keywords: Translocality, Hmong/Miao encounter, Hmong corridor, Miaojiang,

Weidong Zhang, an associate professor in Global Studies and World Languages Department at Winona State University, Minnesota, USA. He holds a PhD in Mass Communication, with a cultural-studies focus, and an MA degree in Asian Studies/Asian Civilizations, both from the University of Iowa. His research interests lie at the intersection of language, media, culture, and society. One important line of his scholarship is ethnicity and cultural identity in the era of globalization. He spent one year at Max PIanck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen, Germany as a research fellow during 2014-2015, and worked on a project, Hmong diaspora, ancestral land, and transnational networks. Currently he is working on new religious dynamics in Hmong American community.