MacArthur Fellows Program

Sherry B. Ortner

Anthropologist | Class of 1990

Ann Arbor, Michigan
49 at time of award
Area of Focus
Cultural Anthropology
Published August 1, 1990

About Sherry's Work

Sherry Ortner is an anthropologist who specializes in social and cultural theory, feminist theory, and the cultural, political, and historical dimensions of ethnography.

An early formulator of the notion of the cultural construction of gender, she pioneered an investigation of this process in a comparative perspective. She has done extensive fieldwork among the Sherpas of Nepal, studying popular religion and social and religious change. Her research projects have ranged from a book on Sherpa involvement in Himalayan mountaineering to an exploration of the cultural construction of class in the United States, using her own high school graduating class and their grown children as the ethnographic population. Ortner is the author of Sherpas through Their Rituals (1978), High Religion: A Cultural and Political History of Sherpa Buddhism (1989), Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture (1996), Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering (1999), and New Jersey Dreaming: Capital, Culture, and the Class of ’58 (2003).


Ortner is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She taught previously at Columbia University.

Ortner received an A.B. (1962) from Bryn Mawr College and an M.A. (1966) and Ph.D. (1970) from the University of Chicago.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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