The Hmong people are a diverse highland minority ethnic group, based across multiple states in East and Southeast Asia. In the 1970s, because they provided assistance to the US army during the Vietnam War, a large population of the Hmong were displaced to Thailand, the United States, Australia, France, Germany, and more. They form a diverse diasporic community across the globe and have developed their own unique cultural expressions.
In this online talk, Anthropologist Dr Tian Shi will discuss the historical and mythological significance of migration for the Hmong community. From the ancient Great Migration in Hmong historical legends to contemporary diasporic memories, expressions of migration have shaped Hmong’s cultural identity. Shi will also explore her research and demonstrate how French Hmong rap artists convert their nostalgia, experience, and ‘in-betweenness’ into the sound space: how they construct an alternative discourse in which young people are able to show solidarity, and how an underrepresented community navigates belonging, nostalgia, and resistance.
Shi is also a member of QXLMH, a volunteer-run cooperative with members from different Miao dialect regions (including Xongb, Hmub, Hmongb, Ahmaob) focusing on reserving and modernising the Miao language. QXLMH aims to be a contemporary voice of the endangered language, and advocate for transnational connections within the Miao community.
Tian Shi obtained her Ph.D. in anthropology from KU Leuven, Belgium. She is currently working as a lecturer at the Oversea Chinese College, Wenzhou University, China. Her research interests include research on migration, refugee resettlement, ethnic identity, and the Hmong diaspora. She has been involved in a variety of migration and new media research projects, such as ‘Ethnic Policy in the EU and European Hmong Integration’ (CPRC project). Her current research is on nostalgic expression in contemporary China and on the transformation of public space.
Hanlu Zhang is an independent curator, writer, and editor interested in art as social practice. Working closely with artists, her curated exhibitions have delved into the urban practices of Beijing and the politics of public space in ‘Rebel Cities’ (2017), Yang Art Museum, Beijing; discussed labor, sociality and technology in ‘Bicycle Thieves’ (2019), Para Site, Hong Kong; and re-examined faith and spirituality as alternative knowledges in the ‘Up&Coming’ section within Gallery Weekend Beijing (2020). She was on the curatorial team of ‘Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence’ in Chengdu and ‘Cosmopolis #2: rethinking the human’ at Centre Pompidou, Paris. When working at Guangdong Times Museum as Curator in 2020, Zhang founded Social Practice Lab (SPL), an ongoing project which initiates, supports, and curates socially engaged art projects and trans-disciplinary collaborations. Zhang lives in Guangzhou. She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying art history and theory. She is also a member of Theater 44, a platform exploring collective creativity.