Dreams Of The Hmong Kingdom: The Quest For Legitimation In French Indochina, 1850?1960

Paperback | June 16, 2015

byMai Na M. Lee

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Countering notions that Hmong history begins and ends with the “Secret War” in Laos of the 1960s and 1970s, Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom reveals how the Hmong experience of modernity is grounded in their sense of their own ancient past, when this now-stateless people had their own king and kingdom, and illuminates their political choices over the course of a century in a highly contested region of Asia.
            In China, Vietnam, and Laos, the Hmong continuously negotiated with these states and with the French to maintain political autonomy in a world of shifting boundaries, emerging nation-states, and contentious nationalist movements and ideologies. Often divided by clan rivalries, the Hmong placed their hope in finding a leader who could unify them and recover their sovereignty. In a compelling analysis of Hmong society and leadership throughout the French colonial period, Mai Na M. Lee identifies two kinds of leaders—political brokers who allied strategically with Southeast Asian governments and with the French, and messianic resistance leaders who claimed the Mandate of Heaven. The continuous rise and fall of such leaders led to cycles of collaboration and rebellion. After World War II, the powerful Hmong Ly clan and their allies sided with the French and the new monarchy in Laos, but the rival Hmong Lo clan and their supporters allied with Communist coalitions.
            Lee argues that the leadership struggles between Hmong clans destabilized French rule and hastened its demise. Martialing an impressive array of oral interviews conducted in the United States, France, and Southeast Asia, augmented with French archival documents, she demonstrates how, at the margins of empire, minorities such as the Hmong sway the direction of history.

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Countering notions that Hmong history begins and ends with the “Secret War” in Laos of the 1960s and 1970s, Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom reveals how the Hmong experience of modernity is grounded in their sense of their own ancient past, when this now-stateless people had their own king and kingdom, and illuminates their political choice...

Mai Na M. Lee is an associate professor of history and Asian American studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She was born in Laos and came to the United States when she was a teenager. She was the first Hmong in the United States to earn a PhD in history.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:430 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:June 16, 2015Publisher:University of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299298841

ISBN - 13:9780299298845

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations                
Preface                       
Acknowledgments                 
 
Introduction: The Politics of Legitimation in Hmong Society                       
1 The Hmong and the State: Alliance and Rebellion              
 
Part I. Hmong Messianism and the Mandate of Heaven
2 Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom (a Chronology of Two Rebellions)                     
3 Messianism as a Quest for the Mandate of Heaven (Analysis of Rebellions)                   
 
Part II. The Secular Political Tradition (Mandate by Proxy)
4 The Creation of a Supreme Hmong Chief               
5 The Struggle for Paramountcy in the Lao Highlands                      
6 The Emergence of Educated Elites as Political Brokers                  
7 Personal Feud Finds Revolutionary Voices in the Kingdom of Laos (1945–54)               
 
Conclusion: The Continuity of the Two Strands of Leadership
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Every now and then a book is published that is almost immediately destined to become the ‘go-to’ reference for a particular topic. [Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom] will undoubtedly become the key source for those interested in understanding the history of the Hmong from Laos during the French colonial period. . . . One of the strengths of the book is that it relies on both oral history and primary archival sources.”—International Journal of Asian Studies