Meet the Hmong Studies Internet Resource Center Editor - Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD (Updated June 2013)
Thank you for visiting my site - the Hmong Studies Internet Resource Center. Here is some information about myself. Please feel free to contact me with your questions and comments. My contact info is below.
I am a native of Madison, WI. I hold a B.A. in Urban Affairs from Marquette University in Milwaukee. My undergraduate experiences at Marquette awakened my interest in Urban issues and Social Justice concerns.
I became interested in the adaptation of Southeast Asian-origin immigrants and refugees while working on my MA degree in Urban Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My MA thesis looked at Vietnamese institutions, businesses, and residential settlement in the Argyle Street neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois as well as several Philadelphia neighborhoods including South Philadelphia, Kensington, Olney, Logan, West Philadelphia, Mount Moriah, and Upper Darby. At the time of my MA research I also began tutoring Vietnamese immigrant adults as a volunteer for an ESL program run at a Vietnamese Catholic Church in South Philadelphia. This engaging experience further sharpened my interest in Vietnamese American culture and the adaptation of Vietnamese people to life in North America.
A few years later I moved on to Canada to pursue a PhD in Geography at the University of Toronto. For my PhD dissertation, I broadly studied Vietnamese adaptation and the development of Vietnamese ethnic institutions in the Toronto metropolitan area and Southern Ontario. During my time in Canada, I lived for 2 years with a Vietnamese family in the Downsview section of Toronto. I also became very active tutoring Vietnamese youth who belonged to a Vietnamese Catholic congregation. These terrific experiences informed my writing and analysis in many ways.
I subsequently earned a second Master's degree, this time in Library Science from the University of North Texas as I became involved in Librarianship.
Engagement in the Community
From 2000-2006 I was proud to serve as the Director of the Hmong Resource Center Library at the Hmong Cultural Center located in St. Paul, MN. In this position, endowed with extremely limited financial resources, I was gifted to be able to build an institution which is now the largest centralized collection of Hmong-related academic materials in the United States. For the past thirteen years, I have been the grantwriter for the Hmong Cultural Center and have helped the center obtain numerous grants from Minnesota foundations as well as five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, multiple grants from the MN State Arts Board and the Minnesota Historical Society and grants from the Minnesota Department of Education and numerous Minnesota and national foundations. I helped the Hmong Cultural Center set up an ESL program to serve Hmong refugees arriving from Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand between 2004-2006.
While at Hmong Cultural Center, I took a special interest in Human Rights and Social Justice as well as Cultural Sensitivity issues. I helped the center's library develop collections of articles going back 25 years related to race relations issues and discrimination encountered by Hmong populations in the United States as well as Human Rights concerns Hmong populations have encountered as a minority group in Laos, Thailand, China and Vietnam. In recent years, I have served as an advocate to federal and state lawmakers to try to ensure that elderly and disabled Hmong refugees with medical waivers have access to culturally appropriate classes taught in the Hmong language to help them earn U.S. citizenship.
In 2004, I helped the Hmong Cultural Center develop its successful program of "Hmong 101" trainings about Hmong culture and history for professionals and community members. Thousands of persons including many health care workers, teachers and criminal justice system employees have attended these trainings in Minnesota over the past several years. With multiple National Endowment for the Arts grants and local Arts funding support, I helped the Cultural Center develop the Learn about Hmong website featuring videos and information about the Hmong Cultural Arts. I still actively assist the Hmong Cultural Center as a grantwriter and advisor to the organization's staff and board.
While residing in Saint Paul, I was also very involved in the Hmong community in additional ways. From 2004-2006, I served as Co-Chair of the Hmong Resource Fair. In 2006, I served on the local Minneapolis organizing committee of Hmong National Development's annual Hmong National Conference.
Scholarly Interests and Accomplishments/Teaching
My current research interests are centered upon Hmong, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao demography, socioeconomic incorporation and institution-building in North America. An example of a recent article I have published on this topic may be viewed in the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement. Since 2003, I have served as editor of the Hmong Studies Journal, a peer reviewed, scholarly research journal and have helped the journal develop content sharing relationships with major scholarly database aggregators including EBSCO, ProQuest, Gale/Cengage, H.W. Wilson and Asia Studies Full-Text. Since 2000, I have been editor of a Hmong Studies newsletter and have been a bibliographer of Hmong Studies research for several years.
In 2004, in partnership with Hmong National Development and several scholars, I organized and produced the Hmong 2000 Census Publication which was probably the most comprehensive assessment of Hmong demographics and census data that has ever been made available. In 2012, I organized the special 2010 Census issue of the Hmong Studies Journal which features analysis of Hmong American population and demographic trends by several scholars of Hmong American Studies.
From July 2006 through October 2011, I was employed as an Academic Librarian at Texas A and M University in Corpus Christi, Texas, a growing university of 10,000 students in the Gulf Coast region of South Texas. In this position, I worked as a Reference and Instruction Librarian, taught information literacy classes to students (undergraduate and graduate students in various disciplines) and coordinated the library's database and resource guides and serve as a liaison to the Education (Teacher Education, Educational Administration, Kinesiology, Athletic Training, Counseling, Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education) Geography, Geology, and GIS programs. I am also active in Librarianship as a Reviewer of Ethnic Studies, Geography and Urban Studies books for CHOICE magazine of the American Library Association. At Texas A and M University, Corpus Christi I previously served on the University's Faculty Senate. In February 2011, I passed my 5 year review (system of tenure review for librarians) and was awarded continuing appointment as a professional librarian at the university. View a webpage devoted to my work in Librarianship here.