Genetic Ancestry Testing and Reconnection: An Interview with Dr. Victoria Massie

Victoria Massie

In this episode of the Matrix podcast, Julia Sizek, a PhD candidate in Anthropology at UC Berkeley, interviews Dr. Victoria Massie, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Faculty Affiliate for the Center for African & African American Studies (CAAAS), the Medical Humanities Program and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) at Rice University, in Houston. 

Dr. Massie completed her Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology with a designated emphasis in Science & Technology Studies at UC Berkeley. Her expertise sits at the intersection of African and African Diaspora Studies, feminist kinship studies, postcolonial science studies, vitalism, and anthropology of race and racialization. Her work broadly explores the political economy of emerging technologies from West and Central Africa, addressing geopolitical processes of racialization shaping the conditions of exchange, belonging, and scientific authority in the 21st century.

Her first book project, Sovereignty in Return: Building Utopia through Genetic Reconnection in Cameroon, draws on ethnographic and archival research examining how the emergence of a genetic Cameroonian diaspora has created new opportunities to rewrite the legacy of the postcolonial nation building project. Dr. Massie’s work has received generous support from the Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, in addition to the UC Center for New Racial Studies, the UC Berkeley Center for Race & Gender Studies, and the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies. She has also been invited to speak on how a black feminist bioethics can help better understand the stakes of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology by Black Women for Wellness in Los Angeles and the Francis Crick Institute in London.

Outside of academia, she has worked as a journalist and freelance writer. Her writing focuses on the intersection of racial injustice, technology, politics, and pop culture, with features in The Intercept, Vox, Complex Magazine, GeneWatch Magazine, and Catapult Literary Magazine. Massie also worked as a communications coordinator at the Center for Genetics & Society. She is also a Nonfiction Writing Fellow with the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

On the podcast, Sizek interviews Massie about her research tracking diasporic connections between the United States and Cameroon, and the wider world of genetic ancestry testing.

Produced by the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix, the Matrix Podcast features interviews with scholars from across the UC Berkeley campus. Listen to other episodes here. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.




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