Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xx

This work is the culmination of twenty years of thinking, intellectualizing, and researching and a lifetime spent dreaming about the Hmong. This “slow” history is the journey to find myself, my place among my people, and to locate our place in human history.1 I embarked on my first oral research for various term papers during my years as an undergraduate at Carleton College. My first...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-2

Nicholas Tapp, one of my reviewers, thought it important that I articulate my reasons for pursuing history. I do not have much space to do so, but will briefly provide a nontraditional acknowledgement here. My first instructors about life were my mother, Lia Vue (after naturalization, Lia B. Vue Lee), who passed away on January 4, 2014, and to whom I dedicate this work, and my father, Lee Cha Yia (after naturalization, Cha Topson). Grandmother and Grandfather...

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Introduction: Leadership and the Politics of Legitimation in Hmong Society

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pp. 3-49

In spring 2004, after several years of maneuvering for an interview with General Vang Pao, I found myself sitting behind him in a minivan on a road in Westminster, California. Vang Pao, the former commander of the secret army in Laos and Hmong leader in exile, was sitting in the front passenger seat next to his most minor wife, Song Moua, who was driving. Sisamone Thammavong Lyfoung, the wife of Tougeu Lyfoung, the former director general of the...

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1. Hmong Alliance and Rebellion within the State (1850–1900)

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pp. 50-92

The Hmong, over the course of their history, have demonstrated a strong desire for sovereignty, but they have been continually subjected to state control. China and various states in Southeast Asia have been important in shaping Hmong identity over time and space. Hmong oral traditions tell of violent struggles against the Suav (pronounced Shu-a), the Han Chinese who molded Hmong identity from the earliest periods.1 Relations between the Hmong and...

Part I. Hmong Messianism: The Mandate of Heaven

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2. A Chronology of Two Rebellions (1910–1912 and 1918–1921)

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pp. 95-120

The 1896 Kaitong Rebellion in Muang Phuan ushered forth a Hmong-French alliance and enabled some authority centralization in Hmong society. But the Hmong have their own tradition of authority consolidation, rooted in China, that rebuffs secular legitimation and is based on the Confucian concept of the Mandate of Heaven. Hmong chiefs who seek celestial legitimation to become...

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3. Messianism as a Quest for the Mandate of Heaven

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pp. 121-152

Colonial observers of Hmong messianic revolts emphasize the hysterics—the dancing, the acrobatic displays, the rumors of a coming New Age, and the appearance of a Hmong king—the elements they considered illogical, even “mad.” The rationale of Mi Chang’s and Pa Chay’s actions emerges, however, when we place their movements within a Hmong cultural context and the cultural repertoires of other Asians, particularly those of imperial China, which...

Part II. The Secular Political Tradition: A Mandate by Proxy

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4. The Creation of a Supreme Hmong Chief (1900–1935)

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pp. 155-191

The Hmong of Southeast Asia came from multiple regions of China, led by different clan leaders who traced their legitimacy back to the Middle Kingdom. The leaders of the most dominant clans mention an ancestor who had been a tribal official with titles bestowed by the Qing state. As these clans migrated into Southeast Asia, they fought to maintain clan autonomy. By 1910, when the French began constructing CR7 and appointed Lo Blia Yao as the project...

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5. The Struggle for Paramountcy (1921–1935)

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pp. 192-228

In the remote highland zone, especially among groups like the Hmong, who have a segmented, mostly egalitarian social structure, the historical roles of individuals loom large. The mapping of Indochina required Frenchmen like Auguste Pavie and Henri Roux to negotiate and befriend ethnic leaders like Deo Van Tri and Lo Blia Yao. Depending on individuals to facilitate the...

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6. The Emergence of an Educated Hmong Broker (1936–1940)

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pp. 229-251

Lo Blia Yao and those before him were traditional leaders who rose to prominence by virtue of their oratorical talents. They were the ritual and genealogical experts of their clans who knew Hmong custom law enough to serve as facilitators of peace between the clans in Hmong society. Ly Foung represented a transitional figure within this development. He was, as a leader, still deeply immersed in the oral cultures of the Hmong, being a grand master of the...

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7. The Impact of the Japanese Occupation on the Highlands (1941–1945)

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pp. 252-274

Just as the Japanese Occupation of Indochina from 1940 to 1945 affected the structure of lowland Southeast Asian history, its impact in the highlands was equally significant. In 1939 the dispute over the canton of Keng Khoai and the fact that the French favored Touby Lyfoung over Lo Fay Dang had caused major discord in the region of Nong Het. The Occupation deepened the conflict ...

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8. Hmong Competition Finds Revolutionary Voices in the Kingdom of Laos (1946–1960)

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pp. 275-303

Competition between communist and noncommunist nationalists in the post– World War II period allowed Touby Lyfoung and Lo Fay Dang to maintain their bargaining positions, changing dramatically the Hmong’s political status within the Lao state. As in former periods, Touby’s and Fay Dang’s legitimacy during this time rested on their abilities to mediate between Hmong desires and the demands of the state. Lowland factionalism complicated the state’s...

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Epilogue: The Continuity of the Two Strands of Leadership

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pp. 304-312

Hmong aspiration for autonomy inspired the rebellions against the Qing in the centuries before their mass migration into Southeast Asia, where they continued to nurture this dream. The longing for autonomy was hindered by the lack of a broad political consciousness across time and space, however. As back in China, clan division, cultural group disparities, and regional rifts in Southeast...

Notes

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pp. 313-370

Bibliography

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pp. 371-388

Index

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pp. 389-402

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 403-404