Culture And Lack Of Understanding Between Hmong And Hmong Culture

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Throughout this ethnography about the cultural group known as the Hmong, there are several anthropological concepts that can be found due to differences in culture and lack of understanding between the Hmong and the Americans. Two concepts that are prevalent throughout are medical anthropology and ethnomedcine. For example, Lia’s mother, Foua, was restricted to specific foods because of her culture, which were criticized by the medical staff which shows the dissonance between American and Hmong culture. This is a perfect example of ethnomedicine, in that the medical staff at Merced Community Medical Center expressed a completely different way of administering medicine with vastly different medications than that of the Hmong. This idea of ethnomedicine is explained later on and is constantly seen throughout the novel. Later on the Lee’s took Lia home in order to have her “hu plig” which is a cultural birth ritual that “includes a sacrifice for ancestral soul to invite a soul into Lia’s body.” (Fadiman, 21) After some time, Lia becomes diagnosed with severe epilepsy by the doctors at Merced, where the Hmong call it “qaug dab peg” (aka the title of the book!) (Fadiman, 21). This is an example of medical anthropology because the Hmong see illness as something that is physical where the soul and the body are tangled or conflicted. Whereas the doctors (whom are classified as agreeing with the cultural views of American culture) see illness as biological, with viruses, bacteria,
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