Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In studies of shamanic healing, medical anthropologists often employ the United Nations definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being. Yet to date, studies of Hmong shamanism have largely focused on its role in addressing illness and infirmity among first generation immigrant communities in North America, setting these beliefs and practices in opposition to those of host communities. Based on field work with second and third generation Hmong immigrant communities, this study examines generational changes in the ways that Hmong shamanism adapts to local Midwestern American institutions and ceremonies that promote collective well being. This includes a high degree of syncretism with local biomedical services, Christian religious traditions, and rights of passage that include births, deaths, weddings, and graduation ceremonies. These findings reveal a dynamic cultural model of shamanism that supports the well being of a thriving Hmong-American community.