Professor in Anthropology
Penn Museum Curator for Near Eastern Ethnology
Areas of Interest
Brian Spooner is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences, and Curator for Near Eastern Ethnology in the Penn Museum. He is a social anthropologist who studies the role of cities in the history of globalization, with special reference to the Middle East and Central Asia. His major research activities have been in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, where he has focused on urban investment in irrigation engineering and, more recently, on the relationship between literacy and the growth and proliferation of cities. His current project deals with changing modes of social interaction in non-Western global cities. He served as Chair of the Anthropology Graduate Group at Penn from 1985-1988, as Director of the Middle East Center from 1986-1995, as Co-Director of the Lauder Institute 2010-2012, and as Chair of the Undergraduate Program in Anthropology from 2014-2017. Spooner is also the Consulting Editor for Encyclopaedia Iranica at Columbia University.
Spooner, Brian, ed. 2015. Globalization: The Crucial Phase. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Spooner, Brian. 2013. “Investment and Translocality. Recontextualizing the Baloch in Islamic and Global History.” In Crossroads Asia Working Paper Series No. 14.
Spooner, Brian and Harold F. Schiffman, eds. 2012. Language Policy and Language Conflict in Afghanistan and Its Neighbors. Leiden: Brill.
Spooner, Brian and William L. Hanaway, eds. 2012. Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.
Spooner, Brian and William L. Hanaway. 2007. Reading Nasta'liq: Persian and Urdu Hands 1500 to the Present, 2nd edition. Costa Mesa CA: Mazda Publications.