Within performed ritual, Hmong Americans use dress as a medium to express a vision of cultural life responsive to both their cultural past and their new American context. This article is a part of a larger research project focused on the role of dress in the formulation of Hmong American cultural life. This paper focuses on how dress is used within two different New Year performances to make sense of the position of the Hmong in America. Public and private Hmong American New Year rituals are arenas wherein dress is used to express the struggle for reconciliation between the older and younger generations, the old and new ways, and Hmong and American cultures. Separate and differently focused New Year celebrations formally acknowledge the valued roles of Hmong elders as links to the Hmong past and Hmong youth as links to an American future. Both celebrations incorporate a recognition of the core problem of reconciling Hmong and American cultures. Both use dress to give voice to the young and the old as they struggle for cultural definition in the United States.
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- material culture