Literacy in a Hmong-American Community

Writing from These Roots: Literacy in a Hmong-American Community, by John M. Duffy, documents the historical development of literacy in Wasau, Wisconsin, of Laotian Hmong, a people who came to the U.S. as refugees from the Vietnam War and whose language had no widely accepted written form until one created by missionary-linguists was adopted in the late twentieth century.

“We are only beginning to recognize the global forces that have long shaped literacy in the United States. What we need now is a book that demonstrates how to theorize U.S. literacy with regard to globalization’s complex legacy. Writing from These Roots satisfies this need, and then some. Duffy’s careful representation of Hmong literacy narratives is a remarkable accomplishment in its own right, not least for the respect he shows the women and men whose stories enable him to delineate personal, cultural, and national pathways to literacy. In also documenting Hmong people’s transnational pathway to literacy in the United States, Duffy expertly details the rhetorical means by which literacy can make legible the self-fashioning of distinct identities against a historical backdrop bleached by generations of assimilationist public policy and racist discourse. Duffy’s insistence that we think rhetorically about literacy is a call that will resonate in literacy scholarship for years to come.” —Peter Mortensen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

June 2007 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3012-0 / $45.00 (CLOTH)

Also available from University of Hawai‘i Press: The Hmong of Australia: Culture and Diaspora, edited by Nicholas Tapp and Gary Lee.