Brian Spooner

Professor Emeritus, Anthropology

University Museum Room 508


Courses Taught:

ANTH012 Globalization and Its Historical Significance

ANTH100/654 Topics in Anthropology and the Modern World: Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan

ANTH561 Global Food Security

ANTH643 Globalization seminar

ANTH662 Social Reorganization: Tribes, Communities & Corporations


D. Phil. Oxford University, 1967

Office Hours

Late afternoons. Email for appointment.

Research Interests

Social anthropology; globalization, Islam, Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia; social organization, religion, ethnohistory, ecology, non-industrial economies.

Selected Publications

Books and Monographs:

Population Growth: Anthropological Implications (edited). Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972.

The Cultural Ecology of Pastoral Nomads. Addison-Wesley Modular Publication #45. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1973.

Desertification and Development: dryland ecology in social perspective (edited with H.S.Mann). London: Academic Press, 1982.

Ecology in Development. A Rationale for Three-Dimensional Policy. Tokyo: United Nations University, 1984.

Reading Nasta'liq: Persian and Urdu Hands 1500 to the Present, Costa Mesa CA: Mazda Publications, with William L. Hanaway, 1995, 2nd edition 2007.

Entry to Advanced Turkish, American Association of Teachers of Turkish (, (with Walter Feldman and others), 2007.

Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order, edited with William L. Hanaway, Museum Publications, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

Language Policy and Language Conflict in Afghanistan and its neighbors, edited with Harold F. Schiffman, Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Investment and Translocality. Recontextualizing the Baloch in Islamic and Global History. In: Crossroads Asia Working Paper Series, No. 14, 2013. 

Globalization: The Crucial Phase (edited), Museum Publications, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.



1997-2005 Editor, Pakistan Studies News (PSN), the biannual newsletter of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. 1990- Editor for anthropology articles in the Encyclopaedia Iranica.


Anthropology Department Faculty; South Asia Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Graduate Groups; Curator, Near Eastern Ethnology, Penn Museum; Faculty Fellow, Penn Institute of Urban Research; Affiliated Faculty, GSE Program in International Educational Development; Faculty Advisory Board Member, Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Earlier U. Pa. positions: 1985-1988 Chair, Anthropology Graduate Group; 1986-1995 Director, Middle East Center. Other positions: 1961-1968 Assistant Director, British Institute of Persian Studies, Tehran, Iran; 1974-1977 Advisor, Department of the Environment, Office of the Prime Minister, Government of Iran; 1976-1978 Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Desertification (Nairobi); 1979- Executive Committee Member, American Institute of Iranian Studies; 1994-1996 President, American Institute of Iranian Studies; 1990-1995 Vice-President, American Research Institute in Turkey; 1987-2005 Member, Board of Directors, American Council of Overseas Research Centers; 1999-2005 President, American Institute of Pakistan Studies; Board member representing the University of Pennsylvania, American Institutes of Afghanistan Studies, Iranian Studies, and Pakistan Studies. Earlier Board member, for various periods, American Institute of Maghrebi Studies, American Institute of Yemeni Studies, American Research Institute in Syria.



Faculty Status