Nengher N. Vang is an Assistant Professor of Transnational American History in the History Department. He has a B.A. in Sociology from Davidson College, an M.A. from the Iliff School of Theology, and an M.A. in Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010.
He teaches the Vietnam War, US foreign relations and empire, Hmong American historical and contemporary issues, and other courses (including Historical Methods and American history since 1877) in the History department and the Race and Ethnic Studies program. In 2017, he and Professor Elizabeth Kim of the Department of Languages & Literatures developed the Asian/Asian American Studies Minor. He is also a co-advisor to the Oral History Wisconsin Farm Project at UW-Whitewater and a member of the editorial review boards of the Hmong Studies Journal. His research interests include US-Asia relations, American imperialism, comparative race/ethnicity, immigration, social movements, and the politics of diasporic communities in the U.S. with an emphasis on the politics of the Hmong.
He is currently working on a book project entitled Dreaming Different Dreams: History of Hmong American Politics and Transnationalism, 1975-2015, in which he shows that in the four decades since their displacement from Laos after Vietnam War, not only have many aspects of the Hmong culture—music, art, birth, marriage, and funeral rituals—undergone significant transformation, Hmong Americans confronted their displacement, U.S. domestic racism, and the global racial order by simultaneously engaging in both ethnic/racial politics as well as transnational or diasporic politics. While many Hmong refugees have made the United States their new home and are fighting to gain recognition and political assimilation, large numbers of Hmong Americans continue to wage a war of liberation against the Lao PDR government. Some simply dream of the chance to return “home,” but others dream of creating an independent Hmong kingdom in northern Laos. Analyzing how race and nostalgia motivated displaced communities to confront local and global structures of inequality and illustrating why the state frequently fails to integrate diaspora communities, this study of the transnational politics of this underexplored post-colonial refugee community promises to be a major contribution to the study of US transnational history, refugee migration, colonialism, human rights, and “long distance nationalism” from an ethnographic and historical perspective.