Chapters 1 & 2

Upon reading the first two chapters of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, it was hard to miss the major health & cultural disparities between Hmong and American societies. While reading through Foua’s past births in the highlands of northwest Laos, I could not help but notice the immediate differences between there and Foua’s birth to Lia Lee in Merced, California. From a Western standpoint, the Hmong way of delivering babies could be seen as strange and unknown. I can only the imagine the pain of delivering a child, but because of your culture not being able to make a sound. Their people may see our way of birth peculiar, as well. The bright lights, ways of washing babies, way of cutting and disposing of the umbilical cord etc. I think that the method of child birth in the Hmong culture is difficult, but immensely interesting. So many procedures and cautionary tales to be aware of so to not condemn your newborn child- it is intense. However, I respect how even when the Lee’s came to America they still stuck their beliefs in whatever way they could given their circumstances. I loved hearing about Lia Lee’s hu plig (soul calling); I respected the way other Hmong people (specifically from Lee & Yang clans came to celebrate Lia’s hu plig. It seems as though the people of Hmong hold a collectivist way of living that even when not in their homeland still persist.

Hmong people seem to be humble and peaceful in their way of living. They refused to conform to the customs of the Chinese; instead they held steadfastly to their beliefs and social culture. Their kingdom rebelled against the Chinese for four-hundred years, which is impressive considering the major power of China. Their resiliency to fight for their right to live the way they want is admirable. They may not have much in the eyes of other civilizations, but what they do have they are grateful nonetheless.

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One thought on “Chapters 1 & 2

  1. I like they way you flipped the “strangeness” lens back to Western culture. I think it is really easy for us to look at other cultures and comment about how strange and “backwards” they are, and how much they could benefit from some of the practices we use in Western medicine. The argument you make here is really important though. Other cultures could look at us with that same strangeness lens, thinking about how bizarre our customs and practices are. In anthropology, they emphasize how important it is to avoid the ethnocentric view that other people and cultures are “foreign” and “strange”, just because they are different from us. I really appreciate that you took this open and anthropological approach to looking at Hmong culture and considered if our roles were reversed.

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