Melissa May Borja F'12

Melissa May Borja
Assistant Professor
History
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2012
Doctoral Candidate
History
Columbia University
"To Follow the New Rule or Way”: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and the Practice of American Religious Pluralism, 1976-1990

This project explores the religious dimensions of the joint effort by the American government and Christian voluntary agencies to resettle Hmong refugees in the United States after the secret war in Laos. Chronicling the development of a National Resettlement strategy and its local implementation in Minnesota, it focuses on the religious encounters set in motion by the administrative arrangements of refugee assistance, which put refugees in the care of religious voluntary agencies and congregations to which government delegated the responsibilty of providing essential resettlement services. This study of the relationship between Hmong refugees and Christian resettlement workers investigates the complications of expanding public capacity through contracts with religious institutions, as well as the meanings of religion and practices of pluralism and multiculturalism in twentieth-century United States. This project illuminates how new religious diversity complicated old practices of governance and how Americans attempted to govern new religious diversity.