History on the Run: Secrecy, Fugitivity, and Hmong Refugee Epistomologies

Paperback, 6x9, 257 pages, English
by Ma Vang
ISBN: 9781478011316

During its secret war in Laos (1961–1975), the United States recruited proxy soldiers among the Hmong people. Following the war, many of these Hmong soldiers migrated to the United States with refugee status. In History on the Run Ma Vang examines the experiences of Hmong refugees in the United States to theorize refugee histories and secrecy, in particular those of the Hmong. Vang conceptualizes these histories as fugitive histories, as they move and are carried by people who move. Charting the incomplete archives of the war made secret through redacted US state documents, ethnography, film, and literature, Vang shows how Hmong refugees tell their stories in ways that exist separately from narratives of U.S. empire and that cannot be traditionally archived. In so doing, Vang outlines a methodology for writing histories that foreground refugee epistemologies despite systematic attempts to silence those histories.



“Ma Vang seeks out those places where secrets lie, not to reveal them but to consider their social force as archives and cosmologies of knowledge and power. Pursuing a wide range of inquiries that contribute to larger questions about historiography, ‘official’ histories, refugees, and ex-allies of U.S. foreign ventures, History on the Run is an important and necessary interdisciplinary feat. Stunningly original and thoroughly provocative, it is the most compelling book in refugee studies in years.”
-- Mimi Thi Nguyen, author of ― The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages

“In this rigorous and significant work Ma Vang shifts our broader understandings of the connections among state secrecy, racial and colonial war, and refugee subjectivities. By refusing to engage in a simple recovery project or to reveal hidden secrets, Vang offers instead a sophisticated analysis of the structuring logic, function, and effects of state secrecy that demonstrates that it is is liberal military empire's norm, not its exception.”
-- Jodi Kim, author of ― Ends of Empire: Asian American Critique and the Cold War

"...History on the Run is a must read for those who are looking to expand their knowledge in this field and/or wanting to learn more about Hmong refugees."
-- Doua Kha ― International Examiner Published On: 2021-05-17

About the Author

Ma Vang is Assistant Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Merced, and coeditor of Claiming Place: On the Agency of Hmong Women.