Dr Peter Laufer - PhD, 2009

Peter Laufer is an independent American journalist, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker working in traditional and new media, and the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication


Outside shot of Electric Press - an old mill style building off Millenium Square in Leeds

Peter undertook a PhD in Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett, graduating in 2009. 

In the last 30 years he has written more than 20 books. Whether it is borders, migration and identity or the interaction of humans and other animals, the books researched, reported and written by Peter Laufer resonate with his strong points of view and calls for action.

His latest work, Up Against the Wall: The Case for Opening the Mexican-U.S. Border, to be published summer 2020 by London-based Anthem Press, is an example of Laufer’s on-the-scene field reporting resulting in a paean for policy change. Laufer was witness when the Berlin Wall was breached and he followed the revolutions and elections across Eastern Europe for his book Iron Curtain Rising. A dozen years later he was back in Germany to research the growing anti-immigrant movement for Exodus to Berlin. A Californian, the Mexico-U.S. border chaos is a lived experience for him; the University of Arizona Press published his focused look at one example border city, ¡Calexico! True Lives of the Borderlands and the National Geographic Society published his foray into children’s literature, Made in Mexico / Hecho en Mexico, a look at the economic disparities separating the U.S. and Mexico, illustrated by the cut-paper collages of his sister, the artist Susan L. Roth.

In his quartet of books dealing with the animal kingdom, Laufer returns repeatedly to the damaging arrogance of humans. The Dangerous World of Butterflies, is an investigation into the little-known world of butterfly smuggling, a lucrative criminal activity he returns to in Dreaming in Turtle. Forbidden Creatures and No Animals Were Harmed are studies that interrogate the bizarre experiences of people who choose to live with big cats, great apes and long snakes – among other wild animals.

My career demands intimate engagement with the players who make news, it is a privilege I enjoy and a responsibility I approach with care and humility.

interested in research?

the graduate school

If research is your thing, then you’re in the right place. We have a growing research profile within our region as well as nationally and internationally. If you decide to study for a research degree with us you'll join a thriving academic community in an inspiring and supportive environment.

Clock tower at Leeds Town Hall
Image of a male student sat down

More Stories

All stories