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TitleReconstructing Lives Recapturi
LanguageEnglish
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Table of Contents
                            BOOK COVER
HALF-TITLE
TITLE
COPYRIGHT
CONTENTS
PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
SECTION I  THE DYNAMICS OF CULTURE CHANGE AND ADAPTATION AMONG REFUGEES
	Chapter 1  CAMBODIAN REFUGEES AND IDENTITY IN THE UNITED STATES1
		DEFINING “CAMBODIANNESS”
		BECOMING “CAMBODIAN” IN AMERICA
		DECIDING HOW TO BE CAMBODIAN  IN AMERICA
		DEFINING A “MYTHICAL” CAMBODIAN
		RE-CREATING “REAL” CAMBODIANS IN AMERICA
		MAINTAINING “CAMBODIANNESS” AMONG AMERICANS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
	Chapter 2  REFUGEE ADOLESCENTS AND THEIR CHANGING IDENTITIES
		INTRODUCTION
		IDENTITY IN THE DROP-IN CENTER
		Dominant Idioms of Ethnicity in the Drop-In Center
		ETHNIC IDENTITY IN THE SCHOOL-BASED WORKSHOPS
		THE MANIPULATION OF ETHNIC IDENTITY
			The Reaffirmation of Latino/North American and Latino-Americano Identities
				Analysis
		CONCLUSIONS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
	Chapter 3  RESPONDING TO EVENTS FROM AFAR: Soviet Jewish Refugees Reassess Their Identity1
		FIRST IMPRESSIONS—OR—“THOSE POOR PEOPLE”
		PELESOSI AND THE NEW WAVE
		DEJA VU AND THE ETHIC OF KINSHIP
		CONCLUSIONS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
SECTION II  CHANGING CONCEPTS OF GENDER ROLES AND IDENTITIES IN REFUGEE COMMUNITIES
	REFERENCES
	Chapter 4  REINTERPRETING GENDER: Southeast Asian Refugees and American Society
		INTRODUCTION
		METHODS
		NEWCOMERS AND ESTABLISHED RESIDENTS
		MEN, WOMEN, AND WORK
		MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
		AMERICAN GENDER CONCEPTS
		HUSBANDS AND WIVES: RENEGOTIATING ROLES
		INTERGENERATIONAL CONFLICT
		SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTE
	Chapter 5  BUDDHISM, MAINTENANCE AND CHANGE: Reinterpreting Gender in a Lao Refugee Community
		INTRODUCTION
		BACKGROUND
		GENDER
		ENGENDERED SPACE
		RELIGIOUS STATUS AND GENDER
		THE LIFE HISTORIES OF TWO LAO BUDDHIST FUNCTIONARIES
			The Monk
			The “Mei Khao” or Nun
		CONCLUSIONS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
	Chapter 6  OLD TRADITIONS IN A NEW WORLD: Changing Gender Relations Among Cambodian Refugees1
		LITERATURE REVIEW
		RESEARCH SETTING
		“IDEAL” MARRIAGE PARTNERS
			The “Ideal” Wife
			The “Ideal” Husband
			The “Ideal” Relationship
			Changing Cambodian Women
		THE MEANS OF CONTROL
			Men’s Overt Control
			Women’s Covert Control
		DISCUSSION
		CONCLUSION
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
SECTION III  METHODS IN REFUGEE RESEARCH: TWO ETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACHES
	Chapter 7  LIFE OUT OF CONTEXT: Recording Afghan Refugees’ Stories
		INTRODUCTION
		BACKGROUND
			Entree and Issues of Trust
			The Issue of Note-Taking
			The Construction of Life Histories
		RECORDING REFUGEE LIFE STORIES
		NOT JUST A RESEARCHER, BUT ALSO A PERSON
			The Effect of Refugee Research on the Anthropologist
			Adaptive Strategies to Refugee Research
		SUMMARY
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
	Chapter 8  THIRTY-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE ON THE ADJUSTMENT OF CUBAN REFUGEE WOMEN
		INTRODUCTION
		OF CULTURE, CLASS, AND HISTORY: CHANGE ALONG SEVERAL DIMENSIONS
		LIKE NO OTHER: THE DEMOGRAPHY OF CUBAN-AMERICAN HISPANICS
			The Importance of Family and Females in the Cuban Success Story
		CASE STUDIES OF LONG-TERM REFUGEE ADAPTATION
			Approach
			Interview Schedule
			An Overview of Five Women’s Lives
			Differential Change
		MULTI-DIMENSIONAL APPROACHES TO CUBAN SEX ROLE VALUES
			A Sorting Technique and Multidimensional Scaling Results
			Factor Results
			Self-Reflections: “How Have I Changed?”
		REFERENCES
SECTION IV  IMPLICATIONS FOR APPLICATION
	Chapter 9  CONSTRUCTIONS OF REFUGEE ETHNIC IDENTITY: Guatemalan Mayas in Mexico and South Florida
		INTRODUCTION
		CULTURE AND BOUNDARY
			Constructing Boundary, Transforming Identity
			Ethnicity, Boundary, and Adaptation
			Mayas in Guatemala
		THE EXODUS
			Camp Mayas: The Refugees of Pujiltic
			Urban Maya Refugees: The “Unofficials”
			Florida Mayas
		CONCLUSIONS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
	Chapter 10  REFUGEES IN AN EDUCATIONAL SETTING: A Cross-Cultural Model of Success
		INTRODUCTION
		THE GENDER-CULTURE CONNECTION
		A MULTIFACETED APPROACH
			Cultural Background
			Gender of the Student
			Level of Trauma Involved in Initial Refugee Experience
			Conditions in Host Country
			Family Environment
			Educational Background
			Psychological Characteristics
		CONCLUSIONS
		REFERENCES
		ENDNOTES
CONTRIBUTORS
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Reconstructing Lives, Recapturing Meaning

Page 116

of the temple is another highly unusual activity for the traditional Lao Buddhist
nun.

She told me that the Abbot gave her permission to do some of these things,
since they were the result of necessity rather than pleasure. She mentions that
when she came to this monk to ask his permission to continue to work while
being a nun, he replied that he had never heard of such a thing, but that she
should do it if she wanted to. She believes that all of the broken precepts are
justified in terms of her life in America. In fact, much of her income is used for
the support of temple activities.

These changes are renegotiations of gender roles and gender behavior to gain
desired ends. The changes in them enable greater comfort in maintaining certain
roles that are considered important in traditional Lao culture and Buddhism. In
Laos where the dominant society is Buddhist, the society is supportive of
Buddhist functionaries, offering help to them in many forms, and obviating the
necessity for monks and nuns to work outside of the temple. However, in the
United States, work schedules and other necessities accommodate neither
Buddhist ceremonial timing nor religious specialists. Because the role of
Buddhist nun conflicts with the carrying out of usual obligations in workplace
and elsewhere outside of the temple as well as with those concerning family, this
gender role would be unusually difficult to maintain were it not adjusted to the
new circumstances of refugee life in the United States.

Of her breaking of the precepts, the Nun said, “I know that people criticize me
for losing the precepts, but I don’t mind. So many people may see me handing
something to a man or the men to me, and might say, Gee! that Mei Khao has lost
one of her precepts, you know. I don’t mind!” This willingness to take risks and
tolerate some criticism from other members of the community seems an
important personality factor that enables this nun to experiment with new role
behavior and to negotiate changes in the more traditional gender roles of her
culture.

As stated earlier, nuns traditionally sit separately from monks and other men.
When I questioned her about her sitting next to the monks at a board meeting of
the Temple council, she replied that she had to sit near them, so that the rest of
those attending “…would be lower than I am—talking about precepts, right?”
(She is indicating here that she purposely seated herself in such a way as to
display the superiority of her position over that of the lay men attending this
meeting.) In such matters relating to prestige and status, perhaps the high status
of her family in Laos (in addition to her own status as a patron after settling in
the United States) made her feel less vulnerable to criticism than other members
of the community might be. Many Lao have expressed surprise to her about her
lifestyle as a nun, and she herself says that she is “some different kind of nun!”
But, she also said that she will do what she can to keep the culture and religion
alive in this new environment.

She has said that she wants to make it easier for other women to take eight
precepts (she herself now takes ten). Many Lao find taking more than five

BUDDHISM, MAINTENANCE AND CHANGE 99

Page 117

precepts arduous. Some women have told me of their admiration for the nun for
being able to take so many precepts. In 1990, the Nun also told me of her
feelings of sympathy in the few cases in which refugee women here took the
eight precepts for more than a day. Since these precepts include one that forbids
the taking of food after the noon meal, some of these nuns became hungry in the
evening. She has suggested that they eat some ice cream, yogurt, or drink a glass
a milk—as she put it, “whatever is convenient. It is just important not to
concentrate on food and luxury.” She felt that “it is important to take the precepts
and do what one can,” rather than not take them. As a result of her efforts to
widely encourage Lao women to become nuns on important ceremonial occasions,
on three-day holiday weekends during such events I have witnessed as many as
sixtyfive women from Lao refugee communities taking precepts and remaining
nuns for two to three days. The occurrence of this is increasing. On such
occasions, my informant functions as their leader and adviser.

One practice that has become common, is for women to take precepts as
novice nuns for only several hours. On a number of occasions I have seen
women, as a group, take the eight precepts as nuns in the morning, wear white
and remove their make-up and jewelry, eat when the monks are served (usually
large ceremonial meals), and perform the prayers. Then, in that same afternoon,
they take the five precepts of lay people, thereby undoing their obligation to
observe the eight precepts that would prevent them from eating the evening
meal, listening to music, sleeping on a bed, sitting on a chair, or having sexual
intercourse with their husbands. The Nun has also encouraged Lao women to do
this, which she felt was better than their never becoming nuns at all.

In 1987, at the Temple, the Nun started telling me about an article she had read
of a woman being ordained as a monk. This occurred in California, and
apparently pertained to a Buddhist sect from another culture; she thought it was
Taiwanese. Later that week, on a trip to North Carolina with the monks, she
turned to them and said, “Ruth and I are going to become monks! We’re going to
California, and we’ll take the 227 precepts—and while the community won’t
accept us as monks, we’ll know in our hearts that we are.” At first the monks
said little, but then they told us about a female ordination in the time of the
Buddha. However, they said that the woman had to take 311 precepts, or more than
are required of male monks. When I asked why she had to take more, they said
that maybe it was in case she didn’t live up to them. This seems to indicate a
greater expectation of failure on the part of women. It also seems to be meant as
a discouragement for women who might contemplate taking monks’ vows. In
terms of the number of required precepts alone, it is (or was, since women no
longer become monks) more difficult for a woman than for a man to become a
monk.

The idea of becoming a monk was discussed from time to time by the Nun.
When I asked her, in 1990, if she still planned to become a monk, she said that
she was still considering it. She felt that the Abbot would support her in this,
since he had allowed her to continue to work, not shave her head, and to do some

100 RUTH M.KRULFELD

Page 232

CONTRIBUTORS

Janet E.Benson is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of
Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Kansas State University. She has
lived and carried out research in Africa, India, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, and
southwest Kansas. During 1988–1990 she participated in the Ford Foundation
Changing Relations Project in Garden City, Kansas (one of six national sites).
Dr. Benson continues research on immigration in southwest Kansas.

Margaret S.Boone is an applied anthropologist living in the Washington, DC
area, where she provides consultant services mainly for the federal government.
She is president of a small consulting firm, Policy Research Methods
Incorporated. Dr. Boone maintains an active interest in health and population
issues of American immigrants, refugees, and other minorities; is an adjunct
professor with George Washington University School of Medicine; and is a
member of the Washington, DC Infant Mortality Review Board. Publications
include Capital Crime: Black Infant Mortality in America and Capital Cubans.

Linda A.Camino is an applied anthropologist who provides research and
consultation to universities, foundations, public policy groups, and non-profit
organizations. She is also Senior Scientist in the School of Human Ecology at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her primary interests include youth
development, refugees and immigrants, and community development. Dr.
Camino is a co-founder and past Chair of the Committee on Refugees and
Immigrants (CORI) of the American Anthropological Association.

Pamela A.DeVoe, cross-cultural specialist, has carried out research involving
culture change and cross-cultural interaction. Dr. DeVoe has worked with
American Indians in the United States, American expatriates in Central America,
and Taiwanese Chinese in Taiwan. Since the early 1980s, Dr. DeVoe has also
carried out research with refugees coming to the American midwest. She has
been Corresponding Editor to the Anthropology Newsletter for the Committee on
Refugee Issues (CORI), edited Selected Papers on Refugee Issues: 1992, and has
held other positions in the American Anthropological Association, General
Anthropological Division.

Duncan M.Earle is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Associate
Director for Research at the Center for Housing and Urban Development at
Texas A & M University. Dr. Earle has made the displacement of rural people in

Page 233

Guatemala and Mexico his principal scholarly interest. Guatemalan Mayas
experiencing rapid change due to development, religious change, and tourism;
Maya colonists in the Chiapas rain forest; Guatemalan refugees in Mexico and
the United States; and Mexicans located in Texas border colonias are his current
research topics.

Ruth M.Krulfeld is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at
the George Washington University. In addition to longitudinal research on Lao
refugees since 1981, she has conducted anthropological research in the
Caribbean and Central America, on Sasak villages on Lombok in Indonesia for
two years, and on Lao in Northeast Thailand. Dr. Krulfeld is Vice Chair of the
Committee on Refugee Issues (CORI) of the American Anthropological
Association, has served on the temple council of the lowland Lao refugee
community, and serves on boards of SEAWASH and several refugee
organizations. She was awarded the CORI prize for outstanding paper on refugee
issues at the 91 st Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
in 1992.

Judith Kulig teaches cross-cultural and community health nursing in a Post
RN Baccalaureate program at the University of Lethbridge. She has worked with
Cambodian refugees as a community health nurse and researcher in both Canada
and the United States. She is currently conducting research on family life
changes among Central American refugees.

Fran Markowitz has been studying and writing about the post-migration
experience of formerly Soviet Jews in the United States and in Israel for the past
ten years and is the author of A Community In Spite of ltself: Soviet Jewish
Emigrants in New York. As a Lecturer of Anthropology at Ben-Gurion
University in Beersheva, Israel, she is currently focusing attention on the identity
choices of adolescents from the CIS as they come of age in a culture in search of
itself.

Carol A.Mortland teaches anthropology at Dowling College. She has been a
director of refugee programs on the local level and director of refugee services
for a national voluntary agency. Dr. Mortland was president of the Pierce County
Refugee Forum in 1983 and member of the Advisory Council for the New York
State Refugee/Entrant Assistance Program. She has done research with
Southeast Asian refugees since 1981 and has written on refugee patronage,
refugee camp life, resettlement, and relief systems.

Patricia A.Omidian has been interested in the areas of community health,
community mental health, and issues of refugee resettlement since 1985. Dr.
Omidian was awarded the Committee on Refugee Issues (CORI) prize for his
outstanding paper (co-authored with Juliene G.Lipson) on refugee issues at the
91st Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in 1992. Dr.
Omidian was project coordinator for the Mid East SIHA Project, a health
resource center for Middle Eastern immigrants, and was project coordinator of
the Afghan Health Project, a community-based health promotion project funded
by the California Department of Health Services.

216 CONTRIBUTORS

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