Hmong Shamanism in America

The above video is a brief excerpt from one of the documentaries I will be addressing in my research this semester- in it, the question of the persistence and change of shamanic tradition among the Hmong immigrants in the US is addressed through the view point of a shaman’s 14 year old daughter. Its a fascinating look at the way an ancient religion molds and adapts to its new surroundings- less it face being swept away in favor of newer traditions. This process of adaptation is the heart of my research; I am interested to find out how Hmong shaman immigrants and their families negotiate their identity and practices while attempting to adapt to a whole new culture. Many traditional healing rites involve the sacrifice of animals; how is this negotiated in the presence of the rules and regulations of hospitals? Do Hmong immigrants still predominantly rely on traditional medicine or are they coming to intertwine the spiritual and the modern medicine of their homes in the West? How are traditional rituals enacted in a new environment? These are the things I’m looking to address over the course of my research. The documentary excerpted above is titled Split Horn, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning a little more about the topic!


About mghartley

An anthropologist of religion (in the making) with a focused interest in East Asia (specifically the mudang of Korea) and an abiding love for folklore and mythology. Student of Korean (and sometimes French and Japanese) with an interest in linguistics and culture.

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