Elonda Clay is the Director of the Library at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She is also a scholar of religion and PhD candidate in Theology and Religious Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands. Her work has been supported by the American Society for Human Genetics, the Forum for Theological Education, the John Templeton Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the United Methodist Women of Color, GreenFaith Coalition for the Environment, and Forschungsinstitut für Philosophie Hannover (Research Institute for Philosophy Hannover, Germany).
Her dissertation, Reel DNA Ancestry: Race, Sacred DNA, and Myth in Media Portrayals of African Americans and Genetic Ancestry examines how direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry, genealogy television, and popular racialized notions of biology are mediated and remediated through popular entertainment media and the Internet. It is argued that media framing of the explanatory powers, mystical meanings, or sacred status of DNA and appeals to narratives of origins, race, and new DNA ethnicities present in popular entertainment involve remediating cultural and archival memory while concurrently mediating genomic science. Her work reframes the intermediality of genetic ancestry stories by examining how media representations stage visual materializations of race, roots, and genetic return in order to assert the importance of DNA as a crucial form of ancestral proof and self-identification. While media portrayals of African Americans and genetic ancestry popularize a post-genomic respatialization of genealogy, they are still heavily invested in reifying biological differences between populations.
Clay currently serves on the American Academy of Religion steering committees for Media, Religion, and Culture and Critical Approaches to Religion and Hip Hop. She has earned graduate degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia (M.A., Library and Information Science), the Interdenominational Theological Center (M.Div.), LSTC (M.Th. in Religion and Science) and received her undergraduate degree from Kansas State University (B.S., Physical Science).
At MTSO, Elonda has worked on issues of librarianship as anti-racist work and building dialogues on science denialism between scientists and religious leaders. In addition to her academic writing, her poetry collection, “Know That You Have Been Loved, blends forms and genres to address core themes of Womanist wisdom: family, love, survival, resistance, resilience, and laughter. For more information: elondaclay.com