The Mong Oral Tradition: Cultural Memory in the Absence of Written Language

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McFarland, Mar 26, 2015 - Social Science - 210 pages
In 1975, after years of struggle, Communists seized control of the government of Laos. Members of the Mong culture who had helped the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in their quest to halt the spread of Communism were forced to move to America as political refugees. The Mong, with their strong culture of oral traditions and beliefs, were plunged into a multicultural society where the written word was prevalent. As a result, their oral customs are now being slowly eroded and replaced with a written tradition. Desperate to hold on to their cultural identity and continue the traditions of their ancestors, the Mong still struggle with the dilemma this change in literary perception has caused. Compiled from numerous interviews, this volume explores the lives of 13 Mong elders. With emphasis on their unique oral tradition and cultural practices, the book discusses Mong rituals, tribal customs, religious beliefs and educational experiences. The main focus of the work, however, is the lifestyle the elders maintained while living in the mountains of Laos. In their own words, they describe their childhood, communities, religious rituals and cultural traditions as well as the ongoing struggle of adjustment to their new homeland. The work also delves into the Mong perceptions of industrialization and the generational conflict that immersion into a literate society has caused. The author himself is a member of the Mong culture and brings a personal perspective to preserving the oral traditions of this unique ethnicity. The work is also indexed.

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1 Oral Culture and Multicultural Education
2 The Mong Oral Tradition and Cultural Practices
3 Mong Society and Sociocultural Settings
4 Oral Tradition as a Source of Knowledge
5 American Education and the Transformation of the Mong Community
6 The Stories of Mong Elders
7 Keeping Oral Culture Alive Through the Mong Elders
Afterword by Marianne Pennekamp

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About the author (2015)

Yer J. Thao is an assistant education professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. He has authored several journal articles and lives in Beaverton, Oregon.

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