The Project

“Home in a New Place: Making Laos in Morganton, North Carolina,” explores, through the world of one family, how Lao-Americans have crafted their home in a small southern community. By chronicling the experience of the Phapphayboun family in Morganton, this project tells a larger story about emergent global landscapes across the South.

The extended Phapphayboun family is an anchor for the Lao-American community in Morganton. With three generations now united, the family asserts their Lao heritage every day. This project explores three realms essential to the Phapphayboun’s identity: their home and holiday traditions; the family restaurant; and the local temple they helped establish. Across each of this family’s worlds, traditional foodways knit together the threads of their identity and give the family a strong foundation. It is the taste of Laos, played out in papaya salad and chilies, which brings this distant homeland alive among the family, the local Lao community, and other Morgantonians. By choosing to make Morganton their home, new North Carolinians like the Phapphaybouns are actively shaping an evolving South.

Through the photos and video on this website, visitors can see and experience the worlds of this incredible country and its communities: in both Morganton, NC and Vientiane, Laos. Katy Clune conducted extensive fieldwork in North Carolina between November 2013 and May 2015, in addition to spending four months in Laos (2014-2015). This website was created by Clune in support of her MA thesis.