Forty-Five Years Later: The Significance of the Secret War for Hmong in Laos and the United States (70324)

Session Information: Social History
Session Chair: Nengher Vang

Sunday, 28 May 2023 14:30
Session: Session 3
Room: Room 707
Presentation Type:Oral Presentation

In the 1960s, the United States recruited, trained, and funded the Hmong, an ethnic minority in Laos, to wage a clandestine war against communist forces in Laos. Historians have noted that the Secret War in Laos marks a “watershed” in Hmong history. Until recently, however, most accounts on the Secret War have concentrated almost exclusively on the American involvement in the secret war in Laos rather than the four and half decades after the war. Only a few scholars have begun to fully explore the meaning of this “watershed” and the consequences of the Secret War for the Hmong diasporic community, U.S.-Asia relations, and global migration history in general. What becomes clear, as I will demonstrate in this presentation, is that the significance of the Secret War as a watershed is much greater than its significance as the cause of the Hmong global diaspora in modern history. The Secret War also led to two streams of Hmong social and political life in the United States. While most have assimilated into American society, many continue to engage in Lao homeland politics, some with the dream of forming a sovereign Hmong nation in Southeast Asia. In the same period, to defend charges of discrimination, the Lao government has actively promoted the integration of ethnic Hmong into Lao society. Since the early 2000s, the Lao government has sent many Hmong students, visitors, and migrant workers to countries like Japan, South Korea, the United States, and the Netherlands as representatives of the Lao nation.

Nengher Vang, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, United States

About the Presenter(s)
Dr. Nengher N. Vang is an associate professor in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. His research focuses on the Hmong’s global diaspora after the Vietnam War and their ongoing struggle for national sovereignty.

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00