Anthropologist and Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, emeritus,
Lauriston Sharp received in B.A. in 1929 at the University of Wisconsin. He studied in
Vienna and at Harvard University where he received his master's degree in 1932 and his
doctorate in 1937. His early field training in anthropology was in the American Southwest
and Plains areas and in the Berber regions of eastern Algeria. He began his specialization
in the cultural anthropology of Far Eastern and Pacific peoples at the University of Vienna.
From 1933 to 1935 Sharp was a Fellow of the Australian National Research Council and
Lecturer in Sydney University, and he carried out field research among tribes in northeast
Australia, especially the Yir Yaront. He joined the Cornell faculty in 1936, helping to set
up a combined department of anthropology and sociology. During World War II he was assistant
chief, Division of Southeast Asian Affairs in the State Department, where he dealt
particularly with Thailand and Indonesia. Upon returning to Cornell he organized a teaching
and research program in applied anthropology which included the Cornell Thailand Project. He
directed a multidisciplinary effort to chart the impact of change and modernization on Bang
Chan, a rice-growing village on the central plain. He also organized Cornell's area and
language program on Southeast Asia and served as its first director from 1950 to 1960.