Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Ethnic Studies

First Advisor

Elisa Facio

Abstract

Dab neeg (oral storytelling of Hmong folktales, myths, tales and legends) and paj ntaub (traditional Hmong embroidery) are cultural practices within Hmong culture. Hmong people have been practicing these customs for many centuries as means to continue cultural identity and heritage. Expose to these cultural practices at a young age, dab neeg and paj ntaub impact gender identity and roles differently between Hmong men and women. This qualitative project examines how dab neeg and paj ntaub shapes and influences Hmong women’s identities and gender roles within my family. I conducted in-depth interviews with ten women in my family. Thus, I argue that though dab neeg and paj ntaub are cultural practices that perpetuate cultural identity, value, beliefs and history, they are also tools for ‘policing’ and reinforcing women's identity and gender roles reflecting the expectations associated with the "ideal" Hmong woman. The "ideal" Hmong woman is the 'good' Hmong daughter, daughter-in-law, wife and eventually mother. However, with access to education and influences from US-western culture, some Hmong women have constructed critical lenses that are contesting this notion. Consequently, subsequent formations of hybrid identities have provided women another space to navigate values and beliefs from both the US-western and Hmong cultures.

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