2021 Hmong Diaspora Field School
Dates: Late May-Early August
The Hmong Diaspora Field School is a team-based research program that focuses on understanding the social and cultural dynamics in the Hmong Diaspora through ethnographic research. In past years the director of the program, Dr. Jacob Hickman, has directed field school programs in Northern Thailand in 2012, 2013, and 2017, in China and Vietnam in 2015, and in Northern Ireland in 2018 (see the above links for photos and information on these past field schools). In 2021 the program will focus on a community of Hmong refugees from Southeast Asia living in central France. France is home to thousands of Hmong refugees who resettled there in the aftermath of the Second Indochinese war, which ended in 1975. The research in this program will address issues of religion, ritual practice and healing, cultural change and adaptation, intergenerational dynamics, and other issues that are relevant to understanding how people adapt to new social contexts.
This research program will provide grounded ethnographic training to the student members of the research team (including both undergraduate and graduate students) while we conduct cutting-edge research on theoretically innovative topics. Students will receive mentored training in ethnographic research (including a broad array of social science methods) and use these skills to conduct fieldwork on various topics. This program is based in the Department of Anthropology but is relevant to a wide variety of research interests including art, Asian studies, French studies, folklore, history, law, linguistics, music, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, and sociology.
We are currently seeking applicants for student-members (both graduate and undergraduate) of the research team. We will be spending approximately eleven weeks conducting fieldwork, but the team will work together before the field to prepare the research, as well as after the field to work towards publishing the results. This is an opportunity to get course-credit and participate in a mentored research program. The program is run through the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, and students will get anthropology course credit through BYU (which can potentially be transferred to other institutions as well). The thrust of this program is on learning and applying ethnographic research skills relevant to various social sciences and humanities disciplines. Coursework will therefore include credit for the training and research conducted on the program. This program will include both graduate and undergraduate students from various disciplines who are interested in gaining research skills and conducting original fieldwork in a mentored environment.
WHAT IS A FIELD SCHOOL
A field school is a particular type of study abroad program that focuses on a mentored research experience in the communities where the field school is held. While all study abroad programs seek to integrate classroom learning with the resources available in the host country, field schools emphasize learning and applying research skills in order conduct fieldwork and to answer scholarly questions in various disciplines. Thus, the emphasis in a field school is on the research experience itself, rather than just mastering a body of content. Field school students design and conduct research projects under the mentorship of the program faculty. In other words, as students receive training they are also fully participating members of the research team. This includes learning and applying skills of data collection and analysis in order to address the research question. In addition to the cultural immersion experience, students come out of field school programs with valuable research and analysis skills (which go beyond the typical undergraduate training) that can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines and fields. For students looking to conduct original fieldwork for a thesis, this program offers an immersed fieldwork experience where one can draw upon the contact base and resources of the directing faculty to conduct thesis research.
This program will last 11 weeks and will be located in a French village with approximately 60 Hmong families. Most students will be living with Hmong host families. This immersive experience will facilitate the ethnographic research that we undertake during the summer. Regular lectures and discussion will provide the basis of the in-field training, but we will also attend community events and rituals together as team members as we collect and analyze data collaboratively.
All student-members who are accepted into the program are expected to attend a pre-departure preparation class during the previous semester. Students must also take a 4-credit Hmong language course (Hmong 101; this prerequisite is waived for Hmong speakers). It may be possible to arrange remote participation in these courses (e.g., via Zoom teleconferencing). Please contact the director if you are not located in Utah and would like to discuss taking this prerequisite course remotely.
During the program students will typically take a total of 9-12 credits. The courses offered during the program include Ethnographic Research Methods and Ethnographic Field Project, Hmong Culture and History, and related theoretical coursework. Academic Internship courses and graduate credit can be arranged as well, and we try to customize the precise course offerings to fit the curricular needs of each student within reason. Critically, all coursework in the program is centered around the research training and gaining theoretical and methodological knowledge that pushes the research forward. Participants will be registered as BYU students, and will receive BYU course credit. Students will be responsible for transferring credit to their home institutions, but the director can assist by providing syllabi or other course materials and justifications for students to arrange the transfer.
WHERE DO STUDENTS LIVE?
Housing will be arranged as part of the program, and will include staying with Hmong host families in the community where we are conducting the research. In some circumstances, students may live in a shared apartment in the community, but within walking distance of Hmong families within the community.
HOW MUCH DOES THIS PROGRAM COST?
--Approximately $6,000 - $7,500 (final cost will be partially determined by the number of students)
--The program fee INCLUDES the following expenses: Tuition for the corresponding coursework (assuming 12 credits at LDS tuition rate); Lodging and two meals a day for the duration of the program; International health insurance; Local research assistants and translators to assist students (those not fluent in either Hmong or French) with their interviews and other dimensions of their data collection; In-country excursions (we will make at least one trip as a group to convene a research conference with a local academic institution).
--The program fee EXCLUDES (expenses students will take care of on their own): Airfare to and from France; Vaccinations; lunch every day; Personal travel; Any additional research expenses not covered by the program.
The priority application deadline is September 30th. In order to apply, go here and click on the "Apply Now" and start an application (for non-BYU students this link includes instructions on setting up a BYU NetID). First select the Spring 2021 under "Semester," and under "Program Type" select Field School, then select the HMONG DIASPORA FIELD SCHOOL (FRANCE).
The application steps include:
1) Submit the supporting documents online. Complete letters of recommendation are not necessary. Rather, once you have started your online application, please email contact information for two references to (indicate the name of the program and your NetID), and they will add that reference information to your application.
2) Include the following in your letter of intent: Why you are interested in this program, the topics that you may be interested in researching, language skills, experience related to your major, international experience.
3) Pay the application fee (the fee is collected by the Kennedy Center, which administers the application database, and students get an backpack when they depart on their programs!).
4) Once the online application is complete, applicants will formally interview with the program's director. Students will be notified via email if they are accepted to the program.
Further information can be found at the above site or by contacting the field school director, Dr. Jacob Hickman (see contact information on the home page).