Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Karen Vang Humanities and Social Science

The Transformation of Traditional Hmong Spirituality in Modernity

My research project is to explore what traditional Hmong shamanism is within a western scientific context and how has it transform within the past thirty years as Hmong migrate and settle abroad, particularly in the northern California. The questions that I ask are: when, how and under what conditions did spiritual belief and behavior shift between a loss, renewal and continuation of traditional Hmong spirituality, and what are new and different forms of practicing shamanism today? I will also inquire how Hmong in northern California currently understand spirituality, spiritual experiences and encounter with spirits. I will interview people of Hmong descent: young Hmong-Americans, Hmong elders and Hmong shamans. While there is an abundance of literature about the cultural clash between the Hmong culture and western culture, there is little on the Hmong individuals experiences in relation to their spirituality in these conflicts which I will investigate.

Message To Sponsor

As a Hmong person who I still practices shamanism in California, I grew up with a great curiosity to learn about how Hmong shamanism is surviving in a more modern environment, how it has transformed and what is Hmong shamanism today in California? SURF has given me the opportunity to pursue this curiosity of mine as a research project, and I am grateful for the support. I am excited to conduct my research. I look forward learning, growing and getting to know my fellows over the summer.
Major: Anthropology
Mentor: Stefania Pandolfo, Anthropology
Sponsor: Wishek Fund
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