The Effects of Historical Trauma and Gender on National Identity within the Hmong Diaspora

Kalia Vang, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University


Since 1975 the Hmong have settled in the West as a diasporic group. Their involvement in the Vietnam and Secret Wars with the United States in Southeast Asia had forced the group to flee their homes in the mountain tops of Laos. This political migration has since forced Hmong leaders to reframe Hmong national identity in the diaspora, specifically in the United States. With this, certain aspects and perspective from Hmong women on the Secret War were marginalized. Thus, this research asks the following question: why is national identity interpreted differently within the Hmong diaspora? This research project is broken into two small parts. The first study uses a historical analysis method to investigate how Hmong leaders and elites shaped Hmong national identity in Laos through historical trauma during three specific timeframes: the French Indochina period, the Secret War, and the Hmong diaspora in the west. Furthermore, in the second study, using a survey instrument, this project explores how Hmong national identity is currently being interpreted in the diaspora through historical trauma, ethnic identity and gender.