Megan Reid joined the Pourdavoud Institute as Senior Editor in June 2023 and is a proud alumna of UCLA. A specialist in medieval Middle Eastern history, she began her studies in late antiquity and classical Arabic as an undergraduate at Harvard. After a year in Syria on a Fulbright fellowship, she came to UCLA to pursue a master’s degree in Islamic Studies. While here, she worked with Michael Morony and began studying Persian with Latifeh Hagigi. She received her PhD in Religion from Princeton and received a Fulbright-Hays grant for doctoral research in Egypt. She was named a Carnegie scholar in 2009 for a project on the notion of appropriate justice in Islamic societies. Megan’s current research focuses on interactions between the central Middle East and northern Europe, Ethiopia and the Mongol Empire through trade or travel and the material culture that connected all of them.
She has taught courses in history, law and gender studies at University of Southern California and Cal State Long Beach. Her book, Law and Piety in Medieval Islam, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. It examines the uses of the body in religious practice from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, particularly as expressions of social criticism. Sufis gained fame more often for their physical piety than for their mysticism. Many renowned judges and legal scholars were better known for their feats of bodily hardship than for their knowledge. Everyone from sultans to foragers could draw upon Islamic law in creating their individual routines of excessive devotion. Through the overuse of the body—fasting every day, for example—pious men and women could make statements about corruption and power or simply serve as exemplars for the community.