Schein, Louisa



Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, May, 1993
B.A., Independent (Interdisciplinary) Concentration and Religious Studies Concentration, Brown University, June, 1981

Research Interests

Popular Cultural Studies; Critical Race and Ethnic Studies; Film/Media Studies; Race, Masculinities, Violence and Criminalization; Sexualities and Queer of Color Critique; Documentary Videomaking; Media Activism; Critical Political Economy; Transnationalism and Diaspora; Chinese Studies; Asian/American Studies; Health and Health Disparities.

Biographical Notes

Louisa Schein researches in the areas of critical race and ethnic studies, refugees and diaspora, cultural politics, minorities and “internal orientalism,” gender and sexualities, violence and criminalization, Chinese studies and Asian American Studies.

Schein has worked with Hmong/Miao minorities in China and the United States for over three decades. She is the author of an ethnographic study of the cultural politics around the positioning of the Miao in China’s postsocialist transition. Minority Rules: The Miao and the Feminine in China’s Cultural Politics (Duke 2000) takes a close look at the cultural politics around non-Han minorities over time and at how they strategized cultural identities and economic change as China undertook market liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s.

Schein is currently writing a book, Rewind to Home: Hmong Media and Gendered Diaspora, about the production and consumption of grass roots media by Hmong refugees in diaspora. This study, primarily sited among Hmong refugee producers in the U.S., reflects what Schein calls “itinerant ethnography” of independent media-making and circulation arguing that ongoing transnational Hmong/Miao relations are in part constituted and shaped through media.

Schein has also published several collaborative pieces on Hmong Americans dealing with race, violence, criminalization, and masculinities. This work has extended into racial justice and anti-carceral activism as well as critical projects and publications around the film Gran Torino interrogating mainstream portrayals of Hmong. She is also co-founder of the scholarly network Critical Hmong Studies Collective.

Committed to media practice as well as study, Schein has pursued two collaborative documentary film projects. One, Better Places, co-directed with Peter O’Neill, is a sequel to the 1982 film, The Best Place to Live, and follows original Hmong immigrants to Providence, Rhode Island to update where their lives have taken them in the last 25 years of resettlement in the U.S. The other, in production with Va-Megn Thoj, details the worlds of Hmong health and healing from biomedicine to shamanism, and from St. Paul to Vietnam. She also does activist writing on racial justice issues in blogs and newspapers.


Awards, Fellowships, and Grants

  • Institute for Research on Women Fellowship, “Feminist Securitization,” 2016-17.
  • New America Media Minnesota Ethnic and Community Media Award, Arts and Culture Division Third Place, with Wameng Moua, for reporting on Gran Torino in “Hmong Actors Making History Part 1: The Bad Guys of Gran Torino.” Hmong Today August 16, 2008, pp. 12-13.
  • Early Response Grant for video documentary project with Peter O’Neill “Hmong Immigrants: A Generation Later,” Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, 2003.
  • Bildner Intercultural Fellowship, “Curricular Strategies for Teaching War and Terror,” Office of Undergraduate Education, Rutgers University, 2003    
  • Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence, Rutgers University, 2000

Selected Publications


Minority Rules: The Miao and the Feminine in China's Cultural Politics. 2000. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. In series "Body, Commodity, Text" edited by Arjun Appadurai, Jean Comaroff, and Judith Farquhar. Translated as: Shaoshu de Faze. Guiyang: Guizhou University Press. 2009.  

Media, Erotics and Transnational Asia. Co-edited with Purnima Mankekar. 2012. Duke University Press.

Translocal China: Linkages, Identities and the Reimagining of Space. Co-edited with Tim Oakes. 2006. London: Routledge.


Producer/Director (with Va-Megn Thoj), Video Documentary Project on Hmong medical worlds, Shamans, Herbs and MDs, in production.

Director/Editor, (with Peter O'Neill), Better Places: Hmong of Rhode Island a Generation Later (Sequel to The Best Place to Live), 2011.

Co-Producer, Thao Does Walt: Lost Scenes from Gran Torino. 2010. 5-minute spoof. Youtube

Selected articles:

“Comparative Racialization and Unequal Justice in the Black Lives Matter Era: The Dylan Yang Case,” 2016. (with Pao Lee Vue and Bee Vang), Hmong Studies Journal 17

“Representations of Chinese Minorities” (with Luo Yu). 2013. In Handbook on Ethnic Minorities in China. Zang Xiaowei, ed., Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 263-290.

“Thinking Diasporic Sex: Culture, Erotics and Media Across Hmong Worlds.” 2016. In Claiming Place: On the Agency of Hmong Women. Chia Youyee Vang, Ma Vang, and Faith Nibbs, eds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 249-279.

“The Unbearable Racedness of Being Natural: A Dialogue on the Gran Torino Production between Lead Actor Bee Vang and Louisa Schein” (With Bee Vang). 2014. Cultural Studies 28(4): 561-73.

Ethnographic Representation Across Genres: The Culture Trope in Contemporary Mainland Media.” In Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas. Carlos Rojas and Eileen Cheng-Yin Chow, eds. Pp. 507-525. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

“Beyond Gran Torino’s Guns: Hmong Cultural Warriors Performing Genders” (with Va-Megn Thoj, Bee Vang, and Ly Chong Thong Jalao). 2012. positions: asia critique 20(3) (special issue on Southeast Asian American Studies): 763-792.

“Flexible Celebrity: A Half Century of Miao Pop.” 2010. In Celebrity in China. Louise Edwards and Elaine Jeffreys, eds. Pp. 145-168. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

“Neoliberalism and Hmong/Miao Transnational Media Ventures.” 2008. In Privatizing China. Aihwa Ong and Li Zhang, eds. Pp. 103-119. Cornell: Cornell University Press.

“Occult Racism: The Masking of Race in the Hmong Hunter Incident: A Dialogue between Anthropologist Louisa Schein and Filmmaker Va-Megn Thoj.” 2007. American Quarterly 59(4), December: Pp.1051-1095. Reprinted in: Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader. Jean Wu and Thomas Chen, eds. Pp. 423-453. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

“Negotiating Scale: Miao Women at a Distance.” 2006. In Translocal China: Linkages, Identities and the Reimagining of Space, Tim Oakes and Louisa Schein, eds. Pp. 213-237. London: Routledge.

Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology , Rutgers University, 2000-present
  • Associate Professor, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University, 2004-present
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, 1993-2000
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, Asian Studies Program, Rutgers University, 1994-present
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, Program in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University, 1994-present

Click here for Professor Schein's CV.