On the surface, national identity seems a concrete idea: Either you are or you aren't. But underneath, national identity, community, and culture are mercurial concepts, slipping outside the grasp of easy definition. This notion of national identity is particularly slippery for a group like the Hmong, who have, ironically, been part of the Twin Cities community for so long that sometimes the complexity of their insider/outsider status is overlooked. For the Hmong, as with many indigenous and refugee groups, national identity is fraught with questions. In a time when nationality and country are primary identifiers, how do people who do not have a recognized homeland identify themselves? How do others see them? Is the richness of their culture a product of—or a survivor of—their migrations, both forced and voluntary? The Center for Hmong Artists and Talent has charged Hmong artists and musicians with asking and answering some of these and other identity-related questions. At their 7th Annual Hmong Art and Music Festival, CHAT invites the larger community to witness how these artists explore identity. In addition to the exhibits and performances, there will be games, vendors, food, and the opportunity to test new definitions of community. Go to www.aboutchat.org for more information.
Sat., Aug. 16, 2008