All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.
The Battlefields of Memory, a community-based exhibition on display at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh through April 25, draws inspiration from these word by Viet Thanh Nguyen in his 2016 book Nothing Ever Dies.
The exhibit, part of UWO’s Asian Heritage Month activities, opens as the Asian American and Pacific Islander population has faced rising incidents of anti-Asian racism in the U.S.
UWO assistant professor and Hmong Studies director Mai See Thao led creation of the exhibit, which is a partnership with Cia Siab Inc., Wisconsin Historical Society and Hmong community organizations throughout Wisconsin.
Visitors to the exhibit, located in the Annex Gallery (Room N204) of the Arts and Communications Center at 1001 Elmwood Ave., will encounter a bedroom that invites them into the private and intimate spaces of memory. They will encounter artifacts that testify to the consequences of America’s Secret War in Laos, a covert military intervention from 1964 to 1973. And lastly, visitors will interact with objects that speak to human resilience.
Watch as Thao describes what visitors can expect to see and learn from the exhibit.
Additional Hmong studies events are planned for Asian Heritage Month:
- April 7, 4-5 p.m. First book club session, History on the Run by Ma Vang. The event is sponsored by Hmong Studies Program, Hmong Student Union, UWO’s Academic Support for Inclusive Excellence, Reeve Union, UWO’s Bookstore and Cia Siab. Register here.
- April 7, 6-7:30 p.m. Dr. Ia Vang, a licensed psychologist, discusses “Healing Hmong Experiences of Historical Trauma.” Register here.
- April 14, 4-5 p.m. Second book club session: History on the Run. Register here.
- April 14, 7:30-8:30 p.m. “A Journey of #becoming” will be a guided mediation and discussion on healing with Pajdee Yang, CEO and founder of EmPajwer Meditations. Register here.
- April 16, 12-1:30 p.m. Ma Vang will hold a public lecture, co-sponsored by UWO Hmong Studies Program, Reeve Union, UW-Eau Claire’s Critical Hmong Studies Program and UW-Madison’s Hmong Studies Consortium. Vang will highlight the key arguments from her book, History on the Run, to show how the history of Hmong soldiering for U.S. liberal militarized empire effaced Hmong experiences of racism and state violence. Furthermore, the talk will underscore how Hmong history exceeds U.S. state secrecy. It persists as fugitive knowledge that continues to unfold through the everyday acts of silence, activism, refusal and Hmong American literature. Join here.
- April 26, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Ka Ly, the founder of Artcrop in Minnesota, presents “Cultivating Creative Space for Community Futures.” Ly is a queer Hmoob (Hmong) French American artist and cultural producer rooted in creating social change. Ly draws on their identities, lived experiences, and various communities to redefine and reclaim Hmoob and queer aesthetics, cultural innovation, and community futures. Join here.
Video by Pat Flood.