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Silent threads: Hmong refugee women in Thailand

The Hmong people, from East and Southeast Asia, have long faced ethno-religious persecution. The Hmong women in these portraits tell harrowing stories of being forced to escape their home country of Vietnam as a result of violence and oppression. Living as refugees in Thailand, they confront new adversities, stripped of legal recognition and vulnerable to financial insecurity and deportation. Traditional Hmong embroidery has become for them not only a livelihood, but also a medium of self-expression, allowing them to find their voice in a world that often silences them.

These images are collaborative, mixed-media, anonymous portraits - they combine my photography with Hmong traditional embroidery (known as Paj Ntaub). Each participating woman has embroidered over her own portrait, selectively revealing and concealing elements of her image, and weaving her personal and cultural identities into the photograph. In this way, the series also speaks to the tension between hiding and speaking up that is central to these women's lives.

This project was created in collaboration with Asylum Access Thailand. It was exhibited in Bangkok in 2022 and was published on the British Journal of Photography.

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