Karen Smid is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Studies at the University of Southern California. She completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Michigan in September 2008.
Her dissertation, titled "How Tomorrow Precedes Yesterday: Visions of Time and Locations of Authority for Muslims in the Fouta Djallon, Guinea," shows how laypeople's ways of conceptualizing time and envisioning sacred moments in the distant past and future inform their determinations of legitimate religious and political authority. It was based on two years of field research in five Sufi clerical communities in rural northern Guinea.
Karen also writes about Guinean women's reliance on their religious visions to interpret their experiences of social suffering and inequality; about the moral decision-making processes of young Guinean men; and about linguistic honorifics, or ways of encoding social status in the Fouta Djallon variety of the Pular language.