In the ethnographic research I undertook among a Hmong community in northern Thailand, my aim was to understand my Hmong interlocutors' perceptions of self and models of personhood. A Hmong model of personhood differs from typical Western models of personhood, and these divergences are due to underlying cosmological differences. The cosmological underpinnings of cultural models of personhood have not received enough sustained attention in social science research. I demonstrate the merits of my interlocutors' personhood by arguing that their personhood, performed on their cosmological stage, enables innovative approaches to recreating Hmong tradition, and empowers individuals to actively and creatively negotiate a sense of self within their social context. In so doing, I depict some fundamental, ontological differences between my Hmong interlocutors' personhood and Western personhood, and how this should change how cross-cultural research is conducted in the social sciences.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Jacob Hickman
Location: Alumni House, BOYER ROOM (4:10pm)