Consortium Mission

The mission of the Hmong Studies Consortium is to promote research and instruction related to Hmong Studies and to serve as a resource about Hmong Studies. The consortium aims to develop faculty expertise, offer new courses, encourage and sponsor research, and systematically collect and preserve resources related to the study of the Hmong. We direct primary attention to the study of the Hmong in Southeast Asia, with a secondary interest in Hmong resettlement in the United States and Hmong in America more generally.

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 Asian Languages and Cultures 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.
  • 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: Development and Environment in Southeast Asia (Ian Baird)

As the Hmong started arriving in Minnesota in 1975, they immediately attracted the interest of faculties at the University of Minnesota. By the early 1980s, faculties at the university’s agricultural extension program set up farming projects to train Hmong in the use of modern equipment, fertilizers, and pesticides. These efforts still have positive repercussions in the Twin Cities area as the Hmong went on to farm independently. Today, Hmong farmers make up the majority of vegetable vendors at our local Farmers’ Markets in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and surrounding cities, serving the demand for locally grown produce.

The University of Minnesota has had a strong Hmong studies research presence. Many of our faculties engage in research in the community and many teach courses that touch on the Hmong. Professors at the university, including Bruce Downing, Douglas Olney, Glenn Hendricks and others, organized the first two international conferences about the Hmong on campus in 1981 and 1983, which resulted in two landmark publications, The Hmong in The West and The Hmong in Transition, which are still cited today. This group of professors also established the Southeast Asian Studies Refugee Project to collect documentation on the Hmong and other refugees. This collection provides early information about refugee resettlements in the U.S. and locally, and it is still available for scholarly consultation at the university’s Immigration History Research Center and Archive.

Today, many of our faculties teach Hmong courses and/or Asian American courses that contain Hmong contents. We have a Hmong studies minor that is housed in the department of Asian Languages and Literature where Bee Vang is an instructor and the director of the Hmong language program. Our Hmong courses also count for our Asian American Studies minor.

Hmong & Hmong Content Courses Taught at University of Minnesota

  • AAS 3483 Hmong History Across the Globe*
  • AAS 3486 Hmong Refugees from the Secret War: Becoming Americans**
  • AAS 3503 Asian American Identities, Families, & Communities (Hmong focus)***
  • ALL 3772 Hmong Language and Culture Immersion in China
  • ALL 3776 Hmong History Across the Globe*
  • CI 8156 Asian American Education (focus on Twin Cities context of Hmong American children/families)
  • HIST 3483 Hmong History Across the Globe*
  • HIST 3486 Hmong Refugees from the Secret War: Becoming Americans**
  • Hist3487 Vietnam Wars (with content on Hmong)
  • HMNG 1001 Introduction to Hmong Language I
  • HMNG 1002 Introduction to Hmong Language II
    HMNG 1011 Beginning Hmong I
  • HMNG 1012 Beginning Hmong II
  • HMNG 1015 Accelerated Beginning Hmong
  • HMNG 3016 Accelerated Intermediate Hmong
  • HMNG 3021 Intermediate Hmong I
  • HMNG 3022 Intermediate Hmong II
  • HMNG 3031 Advanced Hmong I
  • HMNG 3032 Advanced Hmong II
  • HMNG 32089 Language Teaching Tutorial
  • HMNG 3993 Directed Studies
  • HMNG 4001 Beginning Hmong I For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4002 Beginning Hmong II For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4003 Intermediate Hmong I For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4004 Intermediate Hmong II For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4005 Accelerated Beginning Hmong for Graduate Research
  • HMNG 4006 Accelerate Intermediate Hmong for Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4007 Advanced Hmong I For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4008 Advanced Hmong II For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4101 Introduction to Hmong Language I For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 4102 Introduction to Hmong Language II For Graduate Student Research
  • HMNG 56040 Readings in Hmong Texts

The Critical Hmong Studies Minor at St. Catherine University was created out of the desire to offer a diverse curriculum to our ever growing diverse student population. Student groups such as Asian Women’s Association, Ntxhais Hmoob, and She Pab reflect the growing Asian student population in a metro area that boasts the largest urban concentration of Hmong in the United States at 70,000. We wanted to offer curriculum that exposed students to diverse perspectives, diverse histories, and most notably, a place where Hmong students could learn their own history and immerse themselves in classroom experiences that reflect their lived realities.

Dr. Pa Der Vang (Social Work) planted the seed for the Critical Hmong Studies Minor in Spring 2012 and in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Heitzig (Sociology, and co-chair of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity), Dr. Hui Wilcox (Sociology) and Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen (MLIS and MA of Asian American Studies) the minor began in September 2012. The minor is housed under the Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity Program.

For several years St. Catherine University had been offering Hmong language courses (Hmong Language 1, Intermediate Hmong, and Advanced Hmong). We believe that language is a big part of understanding the experience of a group of people. We combined these language courses with critical race studies courses to create a well rounded minor that includes the following courses: Critical Hmong Studies where students would engage in critical analysis of the Hmong immigrant experience, Asian American Identities  to place Hmong within the Asian American context, and Foundations of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity to offer students a platform from which to engage in critical analysis using critical race theory.

Finally, students obtaining this minor would participate in a study abroad course to Laos and Thailand as offered, an internship within an organization engaged with the Hmong community, and finally students have the opportunity to complete an independent study course on a topic of their choice related to the Hmong experience. With an emphasis on ethics, social justice, immersion in diverse and global perspectives, students participate in an analysis of the Hmong journey from China to the Western world, with a critical eye to culture, history, and changes encountered through cross cultural interaction over time.

Hmong Studies Courses Taught at St. Catherine University

This is a 24 credit minor with the following course offerings:

  • Critical Hmong Studies
  • Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity
  • Asian American Identities
  • Hmong 2
  • Hmong 3
  • A choice of the following courses: Independent Study, Study Abroad, Course to Laos and Thailand, and Internship