Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies

Committee Chair

Dan Spencer

Commitee Members

Neva Hassanein, Jill Belsky


Hmong Americans, Agriculture, Farmers' Market, Adaptation, Identity, Refugee


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


Forty years after the initial resettlement of Hmong refugees in Missoula County, Montana, the Hmong American community has undergone significant agricultural and cultural adaptations. Today, there are about 200 Hmong Americans in the county, less than 2% of the population (US Census Bureau 2010), but they make up around 40% of the farmers’ market produce vendors. The thesis demonstrates that, while agriculture has played a central role in helping Hmong refugees adapt, its role is becoming more symbolic as the second generation develops an identity less connected to growing and selling food. Through a qualitative research approach using 19 in-depth interviews, the thesis examines how these participants and their families adapted to growing and selling food in western Montana during the initial resettlement years. It also investigates current agricultural and marketing challenges and strategies, and the role of agriculture in maintaining traditions. Throughout all of these agricultural and cultural adaptations, strong kinship and co-ethnic networks have increased their adaptive capacity. While the motivations to grow and sell food are diverse and have changed over time, one of the primary motivations is to maintain these networks. Lastly, the thesis explores whether the second generation of Hmong Americans intend to continue growing and selling food in the future, and how this decision may affect both personal and cultural identity.



© Copyright 2017 Rachel Cramer