Dissertation

msscLink to CV
My research focuses on media portrayals of African American genetic genealogy consumers as an exemplary case study in media constructions of race and genomics. I situate emerging discourses surrounding direct-to-consumer DNA ancestry testing within wider politics of representation, identity politics, and preoccupations with origins.

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.

For more information, read the chapter, “Mediated Science, Genetics and Identity in the U.S. African Diaspora” in Media, Spiritualities, and Social Change, Stewart Hoover and Monica Emerich, eds. (London; New York: Continuum Press, 2011).