Journal of Undergraduate Research


complimentary medical frameworks, Hmong Shamanism, France, Thailand


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Current social science literature outside of anthropology has attributed Hmong difficulties adapting to Western health care to their traditional healing practices, claiming that successful integration only occurs as the younger generation discards traditional beliefs (Franzen-Castle & Smith 2013). Ethnographic research conducted in France and Thailand refutes these claims; Hmong of younger and older generations utilize both the state medical system and traditional healing, integrating these systems instead of treating them as ontologically distinct (and thus in competition with each other). Many researchers and medical personnel studying or working with Hmong populations have ignored models of ontological holism because of the Western perspective that accepting both shamanism and Western health care is paradoxical (Mirzada 2016, Prentice 2014, Bassett 2011, Malina 2005). While some argue that Hmong immigrants in general have fundamental problems with biomedical practices (Fadiman 1994, Johnson 2002), research in French and Thai Hmong communities demonstrates that practicing shamanism does not preclude the regular use or ontological acceptance of biomedicine. To the Hmong individuals who use both shamanism and biomedicine interchangeably, these holistic medical beliefs are neither paradoxical nor incompatible.

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