Accepted paper:

Spiritual and faith based approaches to health and healing in a Denver Hmong community


Don Duprez (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to examine how the various contours of Hmong spiritual and religious practices and cosmologies affect how issues of health and healing are approached, understood, and experienced within the contemporary social and cultural milieu of a Hmong community in Denver, Colorado.

Paper long abstract:

Over the course of the Hmong diaspora and their transition from life in Laos to life in the US, the Hmong have been exposed to, and have adapted to, various religious, political, and social forces that have shaped their experiences and understanding of life in America. In particular, Christian faiths and traditional shamanic practice have retained their importance as central themes within contemporary views of Hmong social and religious life in America. These practices and institutions have maintained their individual perspectives and teachings regarding cosmological order and mechanics. In so doing, these spiritual views and cosmological models have gone on to provide differing explanations of how a person's physical and spiritual being is situated within these cosmological frameworks, and how a person should approach their spiritual and physical health and healing based on these understandings. To further compound matters, these various institutions, practices, and traditions are understood and experienced differently between generations and the varying degrees of exposure to life outside of the Hmong community. As part of the emergent scholarship of contemporary Hmong life in the US, this paper seeks to examine the means by which the various religious and spiritual practices of the Denver Hmong community approach, understand, and engage with traditional and Western notions of medicine, health, and healing within their distinct, and at times fragmented, cosmologies.

panel P62
Religious life and medical traditions