Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Ethnic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Brian Locke

Abstract

As a new field of research, Hmong studies requires additional investigation in almost every topic imaginable—diaspora politics, refugee mental health, women’s empowerment and more—but little scholarship undertakes the task of examining Hmong masculinity. Patriarchy, especially, requires additional attention as the governing system that influences how men perform their masculinity. This study examines Hmong masculinity performance through the popular grassroots film Nuj Nphlaib thiab Ntxawm (Nu Plaib and Yer). In this paper I will argue that Hmong masculinity is in a moment of crisis; one of the ways Hmong American men of the 1.5 generation validate their masculinity against a White heterosexual hegemonic masculinity is by dominating the bodies of women from the homeland. In order to establish Hmong masculinity in crisis, I will discuss the displacement of traditional Hmong patriarchy within the Western masculinity schema. I will also analyze how the film constructs Hmong hegemonic masculinity and how the character Nu Plaib reclaims his masculinity. Lastly, I will demonstrate how Nu Plaib’s possession of the female body is essential to Hmong American men’s re-establishment of their own sense of masculinity.

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