Researchers

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Chong Moua

Chong Moua
PhD Student, Department of History, UW-Madison
Email: cmoua3@wisc.edu

Chong Moua is a PhD student in the history department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was the last of her siblings to be born in Laos and came to the United States with her family as refugees in 1989. She is interested in how Hmong people create Hmong subjects through the production of cultural artifacts such as oral histories passed down, writing, literature, art, and political and social organizations. Her recently completed master’s thesis, “Writing Into Being: Constructing the Hmong Subject in Kao Kalia Yang’s ‘The Latehomecomer'”, explored the ways in which Yang, a Hmong American woman, constructs a female Hmong subject through the technology of a family memoir centering around the life of her paternal grandmother. Yang’s creation of a female Hmong subject served to counter a Hmong subject that, through history and recent events that made regional and national headline in the American media, pathologized “Hmong” as “male” and “militant.” Chong plans to continue her research by looking at how the Hmong subject can be used as a case study to explore how the figure of the refugee, with its ambiguous social and political position, can expand our understandings of statelessness and the processes of belonging and citizenship.

Choua Xiong

PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, UW-Madison
Email: cxiong8@wisc.edu

Choua Xiong is a graduate student pursing a joint degree in Cultural Anthropology and Educational Policy Studies. She is broadly interested in how educational discourses shapes and influences Hmong people’s national, ethnic, and racial identities. She worked on numerous projects on racial and gender identity of Hmong-Americans in the Midwest. In 2012, Choua went to Yunnan Province, China, on a project funded by the Freeman ASIANetwork Fellowship, to explore the history of Chi You the mythical Hmong king. This China Hmong History project broadens her scope on understanding how education (formal and in-formal) influences how Hmong communities make meaning of their national and ethnic identities transnationally. Her current research will draw on Hmong people’s educational experiences in Laos and Thailand to further explore this interest.

David Chambers

David Chambers
PhD Student
Department of Geography, UW-Madison
Email: dmorganchambers@gmail.com

David Chambers is currently a PhD student studying Human Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is generally interested in Southeast Asian studies and specifically upland minority ethnic relations with lowland majorities and states. David is particularly interested in the Hmong diaspora. Recently, David’s research has focused on the spatialities of Hmong life and identity at the Wat Tham Krabok Buddhist Temple in Saraburi, Thailand.

The spatiality and territorialities constructed at Wat Tham Krabok involve the complex interplay of historic and geographic factors that have created a unique situation which allowed for many Hmong refugees from Laos to reside there during the past few decades. For many Hmong that made their way to the temple, having already faced tremendous life changes–in terms of geography, livelihood, and so forth–and finding themselves in a unique setting constructed by the Tham Krabok institution, have struggled to negotiate varying aspects–ethnic, political, and religious–of their identity. David’s work explores the expressions of Hmong political and religious identity as seen on the landscape of Tham Krabok, these expressions are in some ways unique to the Hmong experience at Wat Tham Krabok and indicative of larger issues of the livelihood changes and political alienation faced by many Lao Hmong refugees.

Giac-Thao (Alisia) Tran

Giac-Thao (Alisia) Tran
PhD (University of Minnesota)
Assistant Professor, Counseling and Counseling Psychology, College of Letters and Sciences, Arizona State University
Email: alisia@asu.edu

Alisia (Giac-Thao) Tran is an Assistant Professor in the Counseling and Counseling Psychology program at Arizona State University’s School of Letters and Sciences. She heads the Tran Ethnic and Minority Psychology and Experiences (TEMPE) Lab. Her broad research interests are in minority equity, mental health, and development. Her current emerging research focus is on financial disparities and contributory financial literacy, decision-making, and behaviors. Other research foci include discrimination, ethnic-racial or cultural socialization, and ethnic minority psychology. Her research draws on methodological approaches from Counseling Psychology, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Public Health. Her clinical interests are in pediatric neuropsychology and psychology. Her advocacy work is based in local and national Asian American communities/organizations, as well as in APA Division 17 (Society for Counseling Psychology). She completed her doctoral training and clinical internship at the University of Minnesota.

Huang Xiurong

Huang Xiurong
PhD (Minzu University of China)
Associate Professor of Anthropology, History and Culture Institute, Southwest University.
Email: hxrjaime@swu.edu.cn

Huang Xiurong is associate professor in Southwest University. Her research covers a wide variety of topics, including traditional rituals and the social organization of ethnic minorities in China, gender, cultural change, and cultural identity. Her most recent research focus has been on Transnational Miao/Hmong studies, including their migration/diaspora in the past, their ethnic and cultural identities, their languages and cultures, their economic development, their social gender problems, and so on.

Ian Baird

Ian Baird
PhD (University of British Columbia)
Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Geography, UW-Madison
E-mail: ibaird@wisc.edu

Ian G. Baird is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research covers a wide variety of topics, including political ecology, critical development studies, history, ethnic and indigenous studies, religious studies, and Hmong and Lao Studies. Originally from Western Canada, he has lived, worked and conducted research in mainland Southeast Asia for most of his adult life. His research is especially focused on Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, but he is also interested in diaspora issues related to Southeast Asian immigrants in North America. His most recent research regarding the Hmong focuses on Hmong agricultural networks in Laos and various social networks, and also on the complex relationship between Tham Krabok Buddhist temple in Thailand and the Hmong.

Jacob R. Hickman

Jacob R. Hickman
Department of Anthropology, Brigham Young University (anthropology.byu.edu)
Email: jacobrhickman.com

Jacob R. Hickman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, where he specializes in psychological anthropology, cultural psychology, and Southeast Asian studies. He has conducted over 40 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Hmong communities in Thailand, Vietnam, China, France, Alaska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota since 2004. His current research interests include understanding how Hmong communities, ritual practice, morality and ethics, family life, and subjectivities have changed at various points in the global diaspora. In particular, Jacob seeks to understand how social life in these various countries and communities where Hmong have migrated affect these various elements of Hmong social life. One of Jacob’s current project involves understanding new religious movements in the Hmong diaspora, including a variety of millenarian movements and various attempts to establish a universal, standardized form of Hmong religious rites.

Kevin K. Thao

Kevin K. Thao
Resident Physician, Primary Care Research Fellow, Department of Family Medicine. UW-Madison
Email: Kevin.Thao@fammed.wisc.edu

Kevin Koobmoov Thao is a Family Medicine Resident and Primary Care Research Fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Family Medicine. His research interests include investigating the impact of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease in the Hmong communities of Wisconsin. His Masters theses entitled “The Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in a Wisconsin Hmong Patient Population.” It revealed a high prevalence of diabetes amongst a Hmong patient population. His current community based participatory research project, The Wausau Area Hmong Community Health Improvement Project (WAHCHIP). It will focus on building a robust Hmong Health Coalition in central Wisconsin to identify and address the key health issues of the Central Wisconsin Hmong Community.

Lan Yongshi

Lan YongshiLan Yongshi
PhD Student, School of Ethnology and Sociology, Minzu University of China
Email: lanyongshigx@163.com

Lan Yongshi is a PhD student majoring in anthropology in Minzu University of China. Her supervisor is Jia Zhongyi. Her research interests include cultural change, social gender, agency and self-developing ability of ethnic minorities, multi-culture and ethnic relations. Being part Yao and part Zhuang, she has a special bond with the Miao (Hmong). After seven-month field work in Shidong Town, Taijiang County, Guizhou Province in China, she has done her research on “Gender Culture of Fangnan Miao Society: a case study of the Sisters Festival.” Now her doctoral dissertation focus on the Hmong people in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Lori Kido Lopez

Lori Kido Lopez
PhD (University of Southern California)
Professor, Associate Professor of Communication Arts, Department of Communication Arts UW-Madison
Email: lklopez@wisc.edu

Lori Kido Lopez is an Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also affiliated with the Asian American Studies Program. Her research explores the ways that minority communities use media in the fight for social justice. Since moving to Madison, she has begun to study the communication patterns of Hmong Americans, focusing on the development of radio and other forms of broadcast media to create transnational communities. She is also interested in using a community-based participatory research framework to explore the way that Hmong community organizations utilize storytelling networks in their advocacy work.

Lynet Uttal

Lynet Uttal
PhD (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Email: lynet.uttal@gmail.com

Lynet Uttal is a professor in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches about the Hmong experience in her courses on immigrant families and racial ethnic families. She supervises theses on Hmong American topics, including family, immigration adaptation, biculturalism and heath. In her community based research courses, students are regularly engaged in university-community projects with Hmong in Madison, Wisconsin. As the past director of Asian American Studies from 2008-2013, she advocated for Hmong Studies, including organizing over 30 lectures about Hmong Americans, hiring visiting assistant professors in Hmong American Studies, and chairing the committee that hired a tenure track professor in Hmong American Studies. She continues to be involved as a bridge between the university and community to advance the field of Hmong Studies and encouraging the professional development of Hmong graduate students and assistant professors.

Mai Na Lee

Mai Na Lee
PhD (UW-Madison)
Associate Professor, Department of History, and
Asian American Studies Program, U. Minnesota
Email: mainalee@umn.edu

Mai Na M. Lee was born in the village of Pha Nok Kok, in the sub-district of Muang Pha, Xieng Khouang, Laos. In 1979, she trekked through the jungle for 28 days with her family to the Mekong River and swam across it to Thailand to become a permanent exile. She came to the United States in 1980, attended Carleton College as a Cowling Scholar and graduated in 1994 with a major in East Asian History and a Women’s Studies Concentration in US Women’s History. She obtained as PhD from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, specializing in Southeast Asian History. She is author of, Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom (UW Press, 2015), which explores how the Hmong, infused with “dreams” and aspirations of their own, negotiates for autonomy within various empires and states during the colonial era. She is currently Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She teaches courses on Southeast Asia, the Vietnam Wars, Hmong global history, and on Hmong Americans. She continues to collect the oral histories of the Hmong around the globe, exploring topics about gender and cultural changes, Christian conversion, nationalist movements and aspirations, politics in the Lao state pre and post 1975, and transnational contacts between Hmong Americans and Hmong in Asia.

Mai See Thao

Mai See Thao
PhD (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Email: msthao@mcw.edu

Mai See Thao is a post-doctoral fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Her research interests are chronic illness, haunting, ethnic consciousness, and transnationalism. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where her dissertation examined the experiences of type 2 diabetic Hmong-Americans as they are shaped by the specter of the Homeland. Rather than the biomedical narratives of diet and exercise, Mai See explores the materialization and transubstantiation of the Homeland within everyday diabetic experiences, transnational medical consumption, and return migrations to Laos and Thailand by diabetic Hmong-Americans. Her overall goal is to understand how claims to health, life and death are tied up with notions of sovereignty.

Bao Xiong

Bao Xiong is an MA student at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in UW-Madison. Her family was one of the last waves of Hmong refugees to arrive in the United States in 2004. She is the first of her siblings to attend graduate school. Bao finished her undergraduate education in Anthropology from UC Merced in 2017. She is interested in the relationship between Hmong Americans and Hmong residing in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand and Laos. Bao seeks to understand the reasons behind cross-border marriages between young Hmong Southeast Asians girls and older Hmong American men. She is also interested in the Hmong marriage systems, patterns of gender roles in Hmong patrilineal society, and the effects of polygamy on Hmong family members.

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Melissa May Borja

Melissa May Borja
PhD. (Columbia University)
Assistant Professor, Department of History, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
E-mail: Melissa.Borja@csi.cuny.edu

Prof. Borja is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University and also holds degrees from the University of Chicago and Harvard University. She researches the intersection of religion, migration, ethnicity, and political development in the United States and Pacific World. In particular, she seeks to understand how religious beliefs and practices have developed in the context of migration, pluralism, and the modern American state. In her current project, Prof. Borja explores the religious dimensions of Hmong refugee resettlement. Using government and church documents and multilingual oral history interviews, Prof. Borja investigates how governments expand capacity through partnerships with religious institutions. In addition, she explores the meanings of religion and the practices of pluralism and multiculturalism in the late twentieth-century United States. Animating her work is a deep fascination with how new religious diversity has complicated old practices of governance and, in turn, how Americans have attempted to govern new religious diversity.

Mitch Ogden

Mitch Ogden
PhD (University of Minnesota)
Assistant Professor, Department of English and Philosophy, UW-Stout
Email: ogdenm@uwstout.edu

Mitch Ogden is interested in Hmong cultural production—especially literary publication, film/media production, and literacy practices—throughout the diaspora. He is interested in imagined constructions of diasporic homeland, the political and cultural complexities of Hmong orthographies, the transnational Hmong film microindustry, and the evolution of the Hmong American literary movement. In the context of refugee studies, he strives to reframe refugees as active cultural producers rather than perpetual victims. His dissertation offers a theoretical framework of refugee utopias: ambiguous and imagined non/places where refugee communities engage in cultural production. He is currently working on a digital humanities project to build an optical character recognition (OCR) tool for the Puaj Txwm alphabet that will facilitate the digitization of the sacred texts of the Is Npis Mis Nus millenarian movement.

Pa Der Vang

Pa Der Vang
PhD (University of Minnesota)
Associate Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work. University of St. Thomas
E-mail: pdvang@stkate.edu

Dr. Pa Der Vang is an associate professor of social work at the School of Social Work at St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. She is also the coordinator of the Critical Hmong Studies Minor, a program she founded in 2012. The minor offers three Hmong language courses, Critical Hmong Studies, and Asian American Identities courses along with Foundations of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity.  Dr. Vang teaches the Critical Hmong Studies course. She is interested in the impact of traditional practices on Hmong as they adapt to life in the western world. She has several publications about Hmong women and teenage marriage, as well as acculturation and socioeconomic status.

Pao Lor

Pao Lor
PhD (UW-Madison)
Professor, Associate Professor, Professional Program in Education UW-Green Bay
Email: lorp@uwgb.edu

Pao Lor is an associate professor in the Professional Program in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where he teaches courses in teacher preparation, English education, middle level education, culturally responsive teaching, politics of education, foundations of curriculum and supervision of instruction. His research focuses on a variety topics about the Hmong-American experience including Hmong college students, Hmong teachers, leadership and women. Pao was born in Laos and has been in the United states since 1980. Prior to joining the Professional Program in Education at UW-Green Bay, Pao was a school administrator, middle/high school communication arts teacher, high school and college soccer head coach and academic advisor.

Pao Vue

Pao Vue
PhD (UW-Madison)
Department of Agriculture, Iowa
Email: pdvue@wisc.edu

Pao Vue works for the Department of Agriculture in Iowa. His research interest is in indigenous knowledge, community-based wildlife conservation and natural resource management in Southeast Asia. He received his PhD in Geography, minor in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Master of Science in Environmental Science & Policy with emphasis on ecosystems studies from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; and a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology and Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Pa Thor


Pa Thor is a Ph.D. Social Work student at New York University. Her research focus includes topics related to gender-based violence, family violence and relationships, community-based interventions, gun violence, and forensic social work. Pa aims to study marginalized and ethnic minority populations along with the social structures and institutions surrounding these groups. Pa’s current research project seeks to understand Hmong murder-suicides by examining any microlevel and macrolevel factors associated with these acts of violence. Her research interests were influenced by her prior work with Hmong families in child welfare and previous service as a board member for Merced Lao Family Community of Merced, CA.

Paul Hillmer

Paul Hillmer
PhD (University of Minnesota)
Professor of History, Concordia University, St. Paul, MN
E-mail: hillmer@csp.edu

Paul Hillmer is a Professor of History at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. He is the director of the Hmong Oral History Project, which began simply as a way to help his Hmong students interview family elders to learn their own history. After collecting more than 200 interviews, he was awarded a History Channel grant to create a documentary about the Hmong resettlement in the Twin Cities (“From Strangers to Neighbors”) and authored A People’s History of the Hmong (2010). While he is currently writing a monograph outside of Hmong Studies, his current research interests in the field relate to US and Thai support of Hmong postwar anti-communist activity, political factionalism in the Hmong diaspora, Hmong and Lao veterans’ commemoration of their military service, and depictions of the Hmong in the US media.

Prasit Leepreecha

Prasit Leepreecha
PhD (University of Washington)
Lecturer, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University
Email: prasit.lee@cmu.ac.th

Prasit Leepreecha (TsavTxhiaj Lis) received his doctoral degree in Cultural Anthropology from University of Washington, in Seattle. Presently, he is a lecturer at Department of Social Science and Development, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University. He and other colleagues also run the Center for Ethnic Studies and Development at Chiang Mai University. His interest includes indigenous and ethnic movements in responding to nationalism and globalization impacts.

Ray Hutchison

Ray Hutchison
PhD (University of Chicago)
Professor, Department of Sociology and Director of the Hmong Studies Center, UW-Green Bay
E-mail: hutchr@uwgb.edu

Ray Hutchison is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Hmong Studies Center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. His completed his undergraduate degree at from SUNY-Binghamton (BA in Sociology) and was a NIMH Research Fellow at the University of Chicago (MA, Phd in Sociology). Dr. Hutchison is Series Editor of Research in Urban Sociology (now in the 15th volume from Emerald Press), editor of the Encyclopedia of Urban Studies (SAGE Publications), and co-author of The New Urban Sociology (now in the 5th Edition from Westview Press). He is the author of an early study of the Green Bay Hmong Community (Acculturation in the Hmong Community) and co-author of Early Marriage in a Hmong Cohort from a longitudinal study of Hmong students in the St. Paul public schools. The Hmong Studies Center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay was established in 2007 to oversee course offerings in Hmong Studies, present a lecture series to the university community, and to coordinate undergraduate research on topics of importance to the Hmong community. This work brings him full circle to his earlier interests in immigration and ethnic communities (beginning with studies of Mexican immigration to Chicago in The Historiography of Chicago’s Mexican Community and other publications) that have been neglected for too long a time.

Seb Rumsby

Seb Rumsby is a final-year PhD candidate at University of Warwick, UK. His research interests include ethnic politics in Southeast Asia, non-national histories and new religious movements. His PhD thesis explores the everyday politics and cultural political economy of mass Christian conversion among the Hmong in Vietnam, which involved several months of fieldwork among Hmong-inhabited areas of Vietnam. He has also recently published an article on recent Hmong millenarian movements in Vietnam.

Urai Yangcheepsutjarit

Urai Yangcheepsutjarit
Lecturer, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University
Email: urai.2530@hotmail.com

Urai Yangcheepsutjarit is a Thai Hmong. The word “Yang” in the beginning of her surname signifies that she belongs to the Yang clan. She was brought to a Thai school to study when she was young. There, she started to learn about Thailand and Thai ways but this also kept her away her Hmong culture. She acquired knowledge of English from Calcutta University in India, where she completed her undergraduate degree. She then turned to studying her own people, after joining the Ethnicity and Development Program at the Faculty of Social Science, at Chiang Mai University, where she worked with Dr. Prasit Leepracha. She conducted her Master’s research regarding constructing and contesting social memories in former communist Hmong communities in Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand.

Wan Shun

Wan Shun

Wan Shun
PhD Student(Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Part-time researcher at the Center for International Miao/Hmong Studies of Southwest University
Email: swan9@wisc.edu or loveneuq@163.com

Wan Shun, who is himself part Hmong, is a PhD Student majoring in anthropology. His research interests include overseas Chinese studies, Hmong studies, cultural changes, minority identity studies and minority traditional dress. He has conducted research in the United States, Laos, and Thailand. He is currently regarding the lifestyles and identities of Hmong Americans.

Weidong Zhang

Weidong Zhang
PhD (University of Iowa)
Associate Professor, Global Studies and World Languages Department, Winona State University
Email: WZhang@winona.edu

Weidong Zhang, associate professor in Global Studies and World Languages Department at Winona State University, Minnesota, USA. He holds a PhD in Mass Communications, 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.

Yan Gao

Yan Gao
Associate Professor of Art Guizhou University of Engineering
Science (Bijie College), Bijie City, Guizhou Province, China.
E-mail: gaoqinqin001@126.com.

She completed her MA in art theory at the Art College, Sichuan University in 2007. Her thesis was titled “Research on Xifangjingtubian Statue of Tang Dynasty Grotto in Sichuan.” Her Supervisor was Huang Zongxian. She was a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from May 2015—May 2016. Her research interests include minority traditional dress and art history.

Yutthapong Seubsakwong

Yutthapong Seubsakwong
PhD Student, International Program in Social Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University
seubsakwong@wisc.edu

Yutthapong’s main cultural and social study focus is on Hmong in heterogeneous dimensions and based in Thailand, where he was born in a Hmong community in Phetchabun Province. His major interest is heterogeneous environments of politics, which influence the social evolution of Hmong society through time-space condition of globalization and modernity; in the Thailand context, state policy and civil discourses are the main factors influencing the conditions related to the processes of territorialization and deterritorialization of social organisms, which affect the everyday lives of the members, the Hmong. With this intension, his work is mainly based on the theory of space, discourse and assemblage and the main methodology used relates to social analysis in Hmong studies.