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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Hmong Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison

     Hmong Studies at UW-Madison (UW) began in the 1990s, when Hmong language classes were offered and a few Hmong graduate students began research projects focused on the Hmong in Southeast Asia.

     In the beginning, the core of these initiatives were been based in the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, which has been a Title VI National Resource Center since 1981. The UW's Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia offers academic year instruction at multiple levels in five Southeast Asian languages, the most recent addition being Hmong (launched in Fall 2007). Through a rich array of language and area courses focused on Southeast Asia, the Center offers two degree programs, a BA and MA in Southeast Asian Studies. Students in these two degree programs have the option of focusing their degree coursework on Hmong language and Hmong Studies. In addition, UW supports a growing Asian American Studies Program that has been hosting a speaker series and teaching four courses per year in Hmong American Studies by a Visiting Assistant Professor. This initiative has significantly increased the interest and awareness of Hmong American Studies by UW-Madison students.

     Academic-year language instruction is supplemented by intensive instruction in eight languages through the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute, or SEASSI, which is hosted by UW every summer. SEASSI has offered intensive Hmong language instruction since 1994, and in 2000 launched a Hmong culture and society course taught in Hmong, along with regular instruction in Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese, all languages relevant to the study of the Hmong of Southeast Asia.

     With funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison hired Prof. Ian Baird (Dept. of Geography) in 2010 as a Professor of Hmong Studies. Prof. Baird is a central figure in our Hmong Studies Consortium. In addition to pursuing his own research projects related to the Hmong in Laos and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Prof. Baird works with other faculty, staff and students to promote research and instruction related to Hmong Studies.

    Among the Southeast Asia and Asian American faculty at UW, several have conducted research on the Hmong and/or routinely include Hmong and Hmong American content in their regularly-offered courses. These faculty members include Professors Marlys Macken (Linguistics), Alfred McCoy (History), Thongchai Winichakul (History), Katherine Bowie (Anthropology), Stacey Lee (Educational Policy Studies), Lynet Uttal (Human Ecology), Ava Yang (Visiting Assistant Professor, Asian American Studies), Dr. Michael Cullinane (History and Asian Studies) Ms. Choua Lee (Lecturer in Hmong, Languages and Cultures of Asia), Jan Miyasaki (Asian American Studies Program), Morris Young (Asian American Studies Program), and Victor Jew (Asian American Studies Program). UW also maintains a major Southeast Asia library collection under a full-time librarian, Mr. Larry Ashmun, who has devoted considerable effort in recent years to acquiring Hmong materials, both published and archival. Most recently, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the UW Memorial Library have acquired the very large collection of Fr. Yves Bertrais, a Catholic missionary among the Hmong in Laos and Thailand from the late 1940s until his retirement in 2006.

     This and other collections have already established UW as a major repository for the study of the Hmong in Southeast Asia. Based on UW’s faculty and library resources on the Hmong, the Center has devoted considerable effort to educate the larger community and the schools on Hmong history and culture. As a part of Title VI initiatives, the Center has offered numerous workshops for teachers (often co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction) to foster increased knowledge and awareness of Hmong history and culture. Most have been coordinated with the Hmong American community as well as with Hmong American students involved in UW’s ongoing academic programs.

Hmong Studies Courses Taught at UW-Madison

LCA 307: First Semester Hmong language. (taught every fall semester and in summers) Choua Lee
LCA 308: Second Semester Hmong language (taught every fall semester and in summers) Choua Lee
LCA 407: Third Semester Hmong language (taught every fall semester and in summers) Choua Lee
LCA 408: Fourth Semester Hmong language (taught every fall semester and in summers) Choua Lee
LCA 507: Fifth Semester Hmong language (taught every fall semester and in summers) Choua Lee
LCA 508: Sixth Semester Hmong language (taught every fall semester and in summers) Choua Lee
ANTHRO 330: Topics in Ethnology: Peoples and Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia (Katherine Bowie)
ASIAN AM 240: Hmong American Experiences in the U.S. (Visiting Assistant Professor)
ASIAN AM 246: Southeast Asia Refugees of the Cold War (Michael Cullinane)
ASIAN AM 540: Hmong American Studies (Visiting Assistant Professor)
GEOG 358 Human Geography of Southeast Asia (Ian Baird)
GEOG 557: Political Ecology in Mainland Southeast Asia (Ian Baird)

 

 

Contact Us
Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Room 207 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
phone: 608-263-1755
fax: 608-263-3735
email: seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu