Karin Willemse obtained her Ph.D. from Leiden University (Social Sciences, Cultural Anthropology) based on her dissertation entitled 'One foot in heaven. Narratives on gender and Islam in Darfur, West-Sudan', which has been published by Brill (2007).
Currently she is Assistant Professor of History of Africa, and of Gender and Islam at the History department of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, specialising in an analytical methodology of narrative analysis, which she calls ‘con/text analysis against the grain’.
She was chair of the Netherlands Association for Gender and Feminist Anthropology (1997-2003) and fellow-in-residence at NIAS (2005/6 & 2007/8) and currently she is member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Islam Research Project, a research-cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Leiden University.
As co-applicant of the NWO project 'Moving Frontiers: Islam and globalization in Africa', she worked with scholars from South Africa, Senegal and the Netherlands. Based on this and earlier research, she writes on transformations in the relations between religion, ethnicity, gender, youth and citizenship, with respect to the war in Darfur, the revival of sufism in Khartoum, Sudan, and the construction of Muslim identities in South Africa.