HomeCampusMilestone Reached in Hmong American Studies

Milestone Reached in Hmong American Studies


(Note from the Editor: Earlier this week, AsAmNews published a story about the Hmong American Studies program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The story based on an article  in a local Madison newspaper repeated several errors in the original article. To avoid the further dissemination of incorrect information, AsAmNews has deleted that article  from its archives and it is rewritten below. AsAmNews regrets the errors).

The University of Wisconsin, Madison announced the hiring of Yang Sao Xiong who the University says is the first tenure track faculty hiring in the area of Hmong American studies in the United States.

  Lynet UttalLynet Uttal, (pictured here) director of Asian American Studies at UW-Madison agreed to answer the following questions.

 Is the Hmong American Studies Program at the UW-Madison the first in the country?

No, UW-Milwaukee has already established a Hmong Studies Program.
This was not a program that was established. but a tenure track faculty hire in Hmong
American Studies.

It is historically the first tenure track faculty hire in the subject area of Hmong
American Studies in the US, even the world. 

UW-Madison had five years of visiting assistant professors (non-permanent positions)
for the last five years. See our PEOPLE website for who these folks are and where
they are now. 

The Asian Am Studies Program has taught four courses per year on Hmong Americans.
UW-Madison has offered Hmong language courses for six years through the Language and
Culture of Asia Program and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, as well as
during the Summer Language Institute.

We have taught about education, psychology, politics, history, and this semester we
have a Hmong AMERICAN Women's course. (This course about Hmong women is especially
unique and important. There are many gender issues in the Hmong communities that
need attention.)
We did NOT create Hmong American Studies (department/program) . We hired a professor in
Hmong American Studies. This is a hire NOT creation of a program.
This is a historic act in a long history of people mobilizing to increase knowledge 
about Hmong at the university. We have had visiting professors for several years and it 
is significant that UW has finally created and funded a permanent tenure track faculty
position in Hmong American Studies.  It has been a long journey that many in the Hmong
community and UW have worked long and hard to achieve.
How is Hmong American studies different from Hmong Studies already offered at UW-Madison.

The current Hmong Studies consortium (which includes a UW Madison website) focuses more on 
international issues of the Hmong experiences, as well as historical and political matters in Laos.
There is no other PROGRAM at UW about Hmong.
This hire is a joint position in Social Work and Asian American Studies and
emphasizes Hmong Americans in the United States.This POSITION emphasizes creating knowledge 
about Hmong Americans in the U.S.

While Hmong are a diasporic population, there are unique issues that they face in the U.S.
Like Native Americans Indians, African Americans and Latinos and other Asian
Americans, the contemporary issues of these racial ethnic groups deserve focused

Hmong Americans are the largest Asian American ethnic group in Wisconsin. They are
an important part of our state population. Their experiences should be represented
in the curriculum at the University as well as in the faces of the tenured faculty. 

What is the emphasis of the Hmong American studies?

The focus of Hmong American Studies at UW-Madison  is to understand the contemporary
issues, including social inequality and discrimination faced by Hmong in the United
States, as well as to understand the transnational and global links with other Hmong
as well as Southeast Asian countries, such as Lao, Thailand, and Vietnam, where many
Hmong Americans originate from.  The emphasis varies around the country.

This past weekend, the Hmong American community in Madison celebrated the hiring of 
Yang Sao Xiong. You can watch coverage of that celebration on WKOW.


  1. Thank you, AsAmNews, for your commitment to be accurate in your reporting. All over Wisconsin, there are campuses that have courses about Hmong Americans. Until now, the other campuses have been more responsive to the state population than UW by offering courses about Hmong Studies. Finally, UW-Madison has taken the lead again in making permanent faculty hire in a tenure track position. Hopefully, the other campus can follow suit in the near future with faculty lines dedicated to Hmong Studies in many different disciplines. The UW campuses hope to work together in the future and with local Hmong communities to further develop Hmong Studies (American, international, and transnational).

    I am proud that the Asian American Studies Program was able to provide leadership on this. I have stepped over as director–the new director of Asian American Studies is Professor TIm Yu. He and Director of Social Work Jan Greenberg will be very important in guiding both the future of Hmong American Studies as well as supporting Asst. Prof. Yang Sao Xiong.

    Thank you to so many people on campus and in the Hmong communities in Wisconsin who created this position, and especially then Dean Gary Sandefur and current Assoc Dean Maria Cancian, who have been hugely instrumental in birthing this past, present and future.


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