Elonda Clay is a scholar of religion and PhD candidate at VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands in Theology and Religious Studies. Her dissertation, “Reel DNA Ancestry: How the Mediation of Genomics Represents the Myth of Biological Race as Real” researches the ways that direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing, genealogy, and popular racialized notions of biology are mediated and remediated through documentary films, television, and the Internet.
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).
Clay has published multiple articles and book chapters and made presentations on the topics of race and genomics in the media, hip hop and religion, Africana religions and ecology, the politics of archival collection and representation, and witnessing and testifying in digital spaces.
Clay was elected and served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Religion as the 2012-2013 National Student Director. She has been actively involved in AAR and presented ten conference papers at both national and regional AAR annual meetings. Over the years, she has been active on several committees of the American Academy of Religion, including the Technology Task Force and program steering committees for Critical Approaches to Hip Hop and Religion and the Ritual Studies Group. Oh yeah, and AAR THATCamp too. I probably forgot some more stuff.
In 2015, she became the founder and Digital Curator of The MTwo Project, a social justice digital humanities project that focuses on digital activism against police brutality among Africana women activists in the U.S. Previously, she was employed as a Digital Librarian and Archivist at Philander Smith College (HBCU).
She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Award, the Fund for Theological Education Doctoral Fellowship, and the Woman of Color Scholarship (UMC).
This bio tells you what type of things I’ve been able to accomplish academically, however, as music artist Sting would say, “You can pour over everything in my CV, you’d still know nothin’ ’bout me.” So what are my interests? What kind of things do I like to do?
In my spare time [and I am using humor here], I like to watch machinima (machine-cinema),especially user-created machinima using The Sims video game engine or Second Life. More specifically, I look for hip hop machinima. I also like to study the multiple apocalyptic themes in movies and video games. It seems that almost every movie that comes out has a post-apocalyptic theme.
Recently, I’ve started looking at foodie culture and food porn as it relates to micro-celebrity and new configurations of old racial and gender stereotypes. Yes, NOW you are saying to yourself, “Boy, she really knows how to have fun!!”
I love making jewelry and shopping at estate sales and thrift stores too.
Things I Like to Do
I have a tv that has been in the same box since my latest move. As you can tell, I’m not a big TV viewer, however, when visiting others I’m big on watching anything sci-fi, HGTV, and comedies or comic performances. I miss you still Dave Chappelle! Kevin Hart, you make Real Husbands of Hollywood hilarious! Cartoons such as Family Guy, South Park, and The Boondocks are a good break from my studies. On a blue moon, I catch back episodes of Eureka or Fringe on Hulu. I also watch PBS science shows and Science.tv sometimes.
Whenever possible, I grab food and a book, then head for Loose Park or it’s Rose Garden. When spring arrives, I have been known to sneak up on a tree & hug it.