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The Hmong Refugee Community in San Diego: Theoretical and Practical Implications of Its Continuing Ethnic Solidarity

George M. Scott, Jr.
Anthropological Quarterly
Vol. 55, No. 3, Southeast Asian Refugees in the U.S.A.: Case Studies of Adjustment and Policy Implications (Jul., 1982), pp. 146-160
DOI: 10.2307/3318024
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3318024
Page Count: 15
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The Hmong Refugee Community in San Diego: Theoretical and Practical Implications of Its Continuing Ethnic Solidarity
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Abstract

The Hmong refugees in San Diego have retained their traditional sense of ethnicity despite strong assimilative forces that threaten to weaken it. These forces are both external and internal in origin, the former being concentrated in the actions of local social service providers and the latter existing as a rational, purposive strategy applied by the Hmong community leaders. The leaders, however, also join with their people in desiring the maintenance of ethnic solidarity. An explanation for this assimilation-contra-assimilation paradox is sought by examining factors in Hmong culture, both past and present, in the light of various theoretical approaches common in the literature on ethnicity. An approach that addresses the interaction of primordial sentiments, structural conditions, and interest-based ethnic movements is best suited for this purpose, and an attempt is made to apply this understanding to the concerns of refugee policy makers and social service providers.

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