Like many other Chican@s, my father’s family immigrated to Michigan from the Texas/Mexico borderlands in search of work. For us, this migration came a couple generations ago. So I grew up in Michigan, but have spent the past 3 years engaged in teaching and research experiences in Virginia and Cambodia. I am now back in Michigan as a PhD student in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department here at Michigan State University. I’m excited to be a CHI fellow this year, especially as a newcomer to cultural heritage informatics in search of more technical skills to compliment my theoretical, content-driven brain.

Growing up so far from Mexico and Texas has fueled more recent personal attempts to harness my academic work as a way of unpacking the hot mess that is my Chicanoness, and to connect this personal experience to larger sociocultural trends related to migration, identity, and history. My research interests are at the intersections of digital and cultural rhetorics, community organizing and academia, and theory and practice. Through recent community organizing experience with an LGBTQ, racial and economic justice organization based in the South (Southerners on New Ground), I have also become particularly interested in pursuing work related to the immigrant detention system.

This issue is becoming increasingly important as the number of undocumented immigrants in the US who are being detained, deported, and subjected to other forms of institutionalized violence, continues to reach unprecedented levels. And while pressure continues to mount for significant, comprehensive immigration reform to be enacted, it will be vital to remain cognizant of the ways in which such reform does or does not take into consideration the rights of LGBTQ immigrants in particular.

As I begin giving shape to my CHI project for the upcoming year, I am scoping out the needs of people doing work in these areas to see where I might be able to contribute a digital tool that would be of service. Such a project will need to be geared not only towards academics, but also towards the communities most directly impacted by the militarization of the border and the proliferation of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the public sphere.

While I am traversing new digital landscapes, I aim to bring a decolonial approach to the work engage. In general, this means acknowledging my work as situated within a variety of intersecting colonial situations, as well as constantly revising the rhetoric of my own approach to doing culture-based academic work. It will be interesting to see what this means within a CHI context more specifically. I look forward to the pains and gains that come with trying something new, and to learning more about already existing projects in the field as I begin to build one of my own. Stay tuned!