Is it possible to be a diaspora without a “homeland” cinema or media? What happens when there is not a homeland media to produce and narrate belonging? In the case of Hmong refugees, a cinema had to be made where one did not exist prior to exile. Hmong Americans are an ethnic group who have migrated primarily from Laos under the conditions of political exile due to their covert assistance to US CIA as guerrillas in the secret war SE Asia. Fleeing Laos primarily to Thai refugee camps, Hmong have, since then migrated to several different nation-states including France, Australia, French Guyana, and the US. Nearly 200,000 Hmong Americans live in the US, with large communities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (Minnesota and Wisconsin) and California Central Valley areas. In the US, as a refugee population, they are seen within a neoliberal and racist framework as “unproductive citizens” and “welfare burdens,” and like other Asian Americans as “perpetually foreign.” As Louisa Schein has written, far from being unproductive, Hmong Americans are some of the most prolific filmmakers in America today. Prior to establishing this emerging cinema, however, was a period of the scrounging through, salvaging, and remaking other transnational media. One of the most interesting borrowings and reworkings has been the voracious consumption and re-production of Bollywood, including the Hmong dubbing of popular Hindi films. Literary translations rely on the idea of hiding their seams. Cinematic translations via subtitling supplement the film, sitting neatly on top, but require literacy. Dubbing reorganizes and creates disjunctures, contradictions, and pleasures. How do we want to read the dubbing of (presumably pirated) Hindi films by Hmong Americans? What does it tell us about alternative circuits of transnational media? How do new assemblages and diasporas reform and realign through racialized and gendered bodies in sound and images in Hmong Bollywood?
I'm curious: did the Hmong
I'm curious: did the Hmong diaspora focus mainly on dubbing Bollywood films, or did they dub a wide range of films--American, French, etc.? And if they focused mostly on Bollywood, why? What is/are the bridge/s between Hmong and Hindi? In order to read the dubbing, I think we would need to situation the practice, taking into account the producers point of view as well as the production itself.
A whole new transnational
A whole new transnational economy of production, distributon and reception emerging through Hmong dubbing of Bollywood films is fascinating. Why only Bollywood when a sizeable Tamil and Telugu film collection is also available for reimagining? (pirated copies from desi grocery stores for example). How does this nuance the discourse about "Bollywood shining" and its global reach? it would be interesting to look at what films are being dubbed? I wonder if the 90s and beyond, i.e. NRI cinema is more favorable for dubbing, not just because they are more easily available but also because of the narratives of home, homeland and diaspora. I can't wait to see if DDLJ has been dubbed. A film set in London and Punjab, second generation BritAsians played by Mumbai-based Indian actors, pirated copy in the US Midwest, dubbed into a Hmong narrative and maybe available on youtube?-- there is pleasure in just imagining these new circuits of culture
Hmong American viewing
Hmong American viewing practices focus primarily on Asian media -- Thai serials, Korean serials and films, martial arts, etc. I have not seen American, French, or any European films dubbed into Hmong. I imagine some of the exposure to Hindi cinema happened in Laos. Also I think there is something about the genre and form of Bombay films themselves that make them somewhat portable. Prior to dubbing, the films were watched with little translation as most Hmong did not read English fluently. Nonetheless, the song and dance sequences, the excess, affect, visual aesthetics, and apparently the "beauty" of the actors were compelling and all cited by viewers as reasons "Indian films" (as they are called) became popular.
I too am fascinated by what
I too am fascinated by what is dubbed. It is not so simple as NRI films. Some of the earliest dubs were HAATHI MERE SAATHI, TARZAN, and CHANDNI. I started with the assumption that it was the NRI films that were most popular too.
This is such interesting
This is such interesting work! I've also found that Cambodian and Thai populations also follow Bollywood film. The idea that Bollywood films promote "family values" is also a big factor. Has there been any work on why Bollywood film usually depicts North Indians and in particular Punjabi families and culture?
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