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Acculturation, Assimilation, and the “View from Manywheres” in the Hmong Diaspora1

Acculturation, Assimilation, and the “View from Manywheres” in the Hmong Diaspora1

Chapter:
(p.173) Ten Acculturation, Assimilation, and the “View from Manywheres” in the Hmong Diaspora1
Source:
Universalism without Uniformity
Author(s):
Jacob R. Hickman
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226501710.003.0011

This chapter elucidates trends in moral thinking from a transnational comparison of Hmong refugee families in both Thailand and the United States. An intergenerational comparative analysis of moral reasoning in these two locations challenges some core assumptions within “acculturation” and “assimilation” scholarship that dominates social science understandings of how migrants’ lives change in the course of migration and resettlement. Hmong of both older and younger generations in this sample of transnational families are adapting their moral thinking to new social contexts, but that these patterns of intergenerational difference cannot be productively understood through linear thinking inherent in current acculturation and assimilation models. Alternatively, “the view from manywheres” leads to the production of thick descriptions of those moral worlds in order to understand these worlds in their own terms. The analysis in this chapter provides insight into the nature of these worlds and how these worlds might themselves be changing. This chapter argues that a life course perspective can provide a more adequate explanation of these intergenerational differences within these transnational families. Doing so requires an ethnographic understanding of dominant modes of life course development as they intersect with new social contexts of development over the course of migration and resettlement.

Keywords:   Hmong, Thailand, diaspora, migration, morality, acculturation, assimilation, life course, Three Ethics, refugees

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