STEM Shoutout: Dr. Michael Lechuga

New Communication and Journalism faculty member to research migrant communities


Dr. Michael Lechuga is joining the University of New Mexico Department of Communication and Journalism in August 2019 to research and teach Latinx communications. 


“I grew up in El Paso, so for me, coming back to the Southwest is a bit of a homecoming,” Lechuga said. “This move brings me closer to the students that I want to teach, closer to the border where I can conduct my research, and closer to Latinx and Native communities.”


Lechuga’s current research focuses on ways white-settler colonial  practices still continue at the U.S.-Mexico border and includes a recent publication looking at how undocumented migrants use media to communicate about thier political activism. 


“Studying communication has allowed me to develop a vocabulary to describe the ways those experiences play into a larger system of settler colonial practices institutionalized by the U.S.,” Lechuga said. 


While at UNM, he said that plans to research how technology is used to control migrants in the United States. Lechuga is also working towards finishing his second book, Alien Affects. The book focuses on how technology and Hollywood science fiction alien invasion films promote a nativist and anti-migrant political ideology. 


“As a fan of Sci-Fi film and literature, the alien narrative has always been important to me,” Lechuga said. “As I developed a critical eye, though, I began to see elements of these genres appear in our public sphere. In other words, I am interested in dystopia and sci-fi mostly because for many people of color in the US today, we are already living in dystopic times.”


In September, Lechuga will also be the keynote speaker for Life Under Drones: A Creative and Scholarly Research Symposium in Tacoma, Washington. The symposium brings together scholars to share their research on the ethics and impacts of drone technology.