Encountering Hmong Spiritual Traditions

Presentation by Mai Na Lee, Ph.D.

Date & Time:

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
Tuesday, September 18, 2018, 12:00 noon - 1:10 p.m.


free and open to the public


Iversen Hearth Room (room 340), Anderson Student Center
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus
2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN


refreshments and cookies provided; please bring your own lunch

 Mai Na Lee, Ph.D.

Mai Na Lee, Ph.D.

This session is part one of a six part series running through the 2018-2019 academic year titled Encountering Religious and Cultural Traditions: A Series Fostering Religious Literacy and Interreligious Understanding. In this session, Dr. Mai Na Lee will teach about the lived experience of Hmong Spiritual Traditions as well as address some common misconceptions and stereotypes people have about them.

Renowned scholar of religion Wilfred Cantwell Smith argued that in order to “understand Buddhists, we must not look at something called Buddhism but at the world so far as possible through Buddhist eyes.” Likewise, in order to understand Judaism, Hinduism, and so on, we must not look at Judaism, Hinduism and so on, but at the worldviews of Jews, Hindus, and so. In his New York Times Bestseller, Religious Literacy, Stephen Prothero writes “I am convinced that one needs to know something about the world’s religions in order to be truly educated,” and argues that “you need religious literacy in order to be an effective citizen.” This year-long series aims to foster religious literacy and interreligious understanding by examining the world through the eyes of religious scholars and practitioners from various traditions, especially our locally lived traditions in Minnesota. The presenters will share their own lived experiences of the traditions and address any common stereotypes and misconceptions. 

Dr. Mai Na Lee is associate professor of history and Asian American studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She was born in Laos and came to the United States as a refugee of the Vietnam War in her teenage years, and is the first Hmong in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in history. Her life experiences as a survivor of war and as a refugee inform her research interest in highland Southeast Asia and issues of statelessness and national integration of minorities into lowland states. Her primary countries of expertise are Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, and her areas or study are the Hmong, the history of China and its long contacts with minorities, and the history of French and American involvements in Southeast Asia. She identifies as a global, post-colonial historian and, much like her primary area of research, the Hmong, who are now spread across five continents, her scholarly pursuit transcends theoretical and national boundaries. She explores gender and cultural changes, Christian conversion, nationalist movements and aspirations, and Hmong American politics and transnational contacts with fellow co-ethnics in Asia. She holds a B.A. from Carleton College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

This session is sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning in collaboration with the Hmong United Student Association (HUSA) at the University of St. Thomas.

To make an accessibility request, call Disability Resources at (651) 962-6315.

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