Immigrant Agency: Hmong American Movements and the Politics of Racialized Incorporation

Paperback, 189 pages, 6x9, English
by Yang Sao Xiong
ISBN: 978-1-9788-2404-1

Through a sociological analysis of Hmong former refugees’ grassroots movements in the United States between the 1990s and 2000s, Immigrant Agency shows how Hmong, despite being one of America’s most economically impoverished ethnic groups, were able to make sustained claims on and have their interests represented in public policies. The author, Yang Sao Xiong argues that the key to understanding how immigrants incorporate themselves politically is to understand how they mobilize collective action and make choices in circumstances far from racially neutral. Immigrant groups, in response to political threats or opportunities or both, mobilize collective action and make strategic choices about how to position themselves vis-à-vis other minority groups, how to construct group identities, and how to deploy various tactics in order to engage with the U.S. political system and influence policy. In response to immigrants’ collective claims, the racial state engages in racialization which undermines immigrants’ political standing and perpetuates their marginalization.


Editorial Reviews


"Immigrant Agency provides new insights about the Hmong American experience and puts race at the center of its analysis to understand the complex ways in which the state constrains political incorporation and how refugees themselves have engaged in political action to shape public policy. Xiong's well-crafted and informative book changes the way in which we understand refugee populations and their political incorporation in the U.S." -- Dina Okamoto ― author of Redefining Race: Asian American Panethnicity and Shifting Ethnic Boundaries

"In Immigrant Agency, Xiong offers a thoughtful and rigorous analysis of immigrant collective action and political incorporation through the case of Hmong Americans. He sheds light on how a vulnerable group of refugees from Laos, in response to political threats or opportunities, strategically interacts with the state and other minority groups to effectively influence public policies. This is an important contribution to the fields of migration studies, ethnic politics and Asian American studies." -- Min Zhou ― Distinguished Professor of Sociology & Asian American Studies, UCLA

About the Author

YANG SAO XIONG is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work and the Program in Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He teaches courses on social movements, race and ethnicity, Hmong American experiences, and immigrants and refugees.